“Say Hey” Willie Mays Tutors President Obama On Baseball and The Game Of Life Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Monday, 30 November 2009

As one of the first African-Americans to play Major League Baseball, Willie Mays has a unique place in baseball history and a rare perspective on the vital importance of racial equality in U.S. history.  So it’s not surprising that the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President elicited strong emotion from the Hall of Famer.

“Say Hey Willie” traveled aboard Air Force One with President Obama as he jetted his way to St. Louis to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 80th All-Star Game, held at Busch Stadium.  To listen in on their in-flight conversation, click on http://www.youtube.com/user/whitehouse#p/search/0/4pbOtfa7_ok

The two met on the campaign trail, after Obama in citing role models and heroes, mentioned Mays in some of his speeches. Mays, who’s never been political, stayed up until 5 a.m. watching the election returns and sent (Obama) a congratulatory email.”
“I reminded him that I dreamed about this day, when someone in my race would be president. Not knowing that anyone would be,” said an emotional Mays.  “This tells me all the things I went through, it was for good things. So I’m just proud of him, you know.”

Mays said that he gave POTUS just one tip for his first pitch as president: “Follow through”…advice that seems as appropriate for his presidency as for the throwing out of the ceremonial first pitch.

At one point, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs joked, “I’ve never seen this much excitement from the press on one of these trips.”

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