Fellow 500 Home Run Club® member Ted Williams famously said "They invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays!" But some might contend the honor most befitting “Say Hey” Willie’s inspirational life – during and after his MLB career – is the MLB “Beacon of Life” Award, which will be bestowed upon him on Saturday, May 15 as part of the pre-game festivities surrounding the 2010 Gillette Civil Rights Game in Cincinnati.
Civil Rights Game Weekend includes a series of events that pay tribute
to men and women who championed equal rights for all Americans, both on
and off the field. Along with Mays, women’s sports pioneer Billie Jean
King and award-winning entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte will be
honored at the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, prior to the game between
host Cincinnati Reds and The St. Louis Cardinals (highlights onwww.MLB.com.) Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie and founder of the Jackie
Robinson Foundation, will also be honored at the Luncheon and
Hall-of-Famer and beloved “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks will throw out the
game’s first pitch.
Mays, who together with Monte Irving and Hank Thompson, was part of the first all African-American outfield in Major
League history during the '51 season, became the New York Giants' first
African American captain in 1964. He went on to compile 3,283 hits, 660
home runs and 24 All-Star appearances - which prompted Williams’
comment seen above.
Past Beacon Award winners include Vera
Clemente, Spike Lee, Buck O'Neil, John H. Johnson, Ruby Dee and Rachel
Robinson. Last year’s honorees were Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Bill
Proceeds from the Beacon Awards Luncheon will benefit the
MLB Urban Youth Foundation, the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund and the
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. For more information,