The New York Yankees tonight honored Nelson Mandela with a plaque in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park. The dedication took place as part of Jackie Robinson Day pregame ceremonies, which were held tonight due to Tuesday's rainout.
The plaque celebrates the life of the former South African leader and commemorates his June 21, 1990, Yankee Stadium visit and address. On that historic day, Yankee Stadium was opened to fans, who enjoyed musical performances from Richie Havens, Tracy Chapman, Mighty Sparrow and Judy Collins.
Mandela arrived at Yankee Stadium at the end of the concert, following a day of meeting and addressing New Yorkers in various locations around the city. He spoke to the assembled crowd, then donned a Yankees cap and Yankees jacket and declared - "You know who I am. I am a Yankee."
At the time of his appearance, Mandela was just four months removed from having spent 27 years in prison.
Text on the plaque reads:
1918 - 2013
"IT ALWAYS SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE UNTIL IT'S DONE."
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER AND GLOBAL LEADER
WHOSE TIRELESS EFFORTS
DISMANTLED APARTHEID IN SOUTH AFRICA.
AS PRESIDENT OF HIS COUNTRY,
HE WOULD USE SOUTH AFRICA'S ENTHUSIASM FOR SPORTS AS A
UNIFYING FORCE FOR RECONCILIATION.
ON JUNE 21, 1990, HE MADE A MEMORABLE VISIT TO
THE ORIGINAL YANKEE STADIUM
AND PROCLAIMED, "YOU KNOW WHO I AM. I AM A YANKEE."
IN WORDS AND DEEDS, HE BECAME AN INSPIRATIONAL LEADER TO THE WORLD.
NEW YORK YANKEES
APRIL 15, 2014
At a pregame press conference prior to tonight's plaque unveiling, a number of dignitaries paid tribute to the legacies of Mandela and Robinson. The recognition of Mandela coincides with the annual celebration of Jackie Robinson Day by Major League Baseball and the hosting of the MLB Diversity Summit in various locations in New York, including Yankee Stadium.
Press conference participants included:
Harry Belafonte − singer, actor and activist
David Dinkins − former New York City Mayor
Hector Figueroa − President, 32BJ Service Employees International Union
Sello Hatang − CEO, Nelson Mandela Foundation
Rev. Jesse Jackson − Activist
Randy Levine − President, New York Yankees
Mr. and Mrs. Zondwa Mandela − grandson of Nelson Mandela, and his wife
Rob Manfred - COO, Major League Baseball
George Monyemangene − Consul General, South Africa
Frank Robinson - Executive VP, MLB Baseball Development
Rachel Robinson − wife of Jackie Robinson
Sharon Robinson − daughter of Jackie and Rachel Robinson
Rev. Al Sharpton - activist and host of MSNBC's PoliticsNation
Brian Smith - Senior VP of Corporate/Community Relations, New York Yankees
Hal Steinbrenner − Managing General Partner, New York Yankees
Lonn Trost - COO, New York Yankees