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Monday, December 09, 2013

SEIU official requests Yankees honor Mandela on his death, Yankees decide to give Mandela a plaque in Yankees Monument Park to be unveiled on Jackie Robinson Day. Mandela visited Yankee Stadium in 1990 when Yankees were in last place, donned Yankee hat and said, 'I'm a Yankee'

Nelson Mandela statement about the US: "“If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings. via cbsnews.com" 1/30/03

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12/8/13, "Mandela, Self-Declared Yankee, Gets Plaque in Monument Park," NY Times, David Waldstein

Mandela in Yankee hat, 6/21/90
"During a triumphant visit by Nelson Mandela to New York in June 1990, shortly after he had been released from a South African prison, one of his most memorable stops was a rally and concert at Yankee Stadium, where he put on a team cap and jacket and proclaimed, “I am a Yankee.”

To commemorate that moment and the life of Mandela, the South African leader who died last week at 95, the Yankees will place a plaque in Monument Park. It will be unveiled on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, when the Yankees play the Chicago Cubs. 

Robinson, the three popes who have visited the stadium and the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks are other non-Yankees to be honored at Monument Park, beyond the center-field wall. Pope Paul VI led a Mass at the stadium in 1965, Pope John Paul II did so in 1979, and Pope Benedict XVI led one in 2008. 

The idea to honor Mandela came from Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, whose president, Hector Figueroa, called the Yankees’ president, Randy Levine. The Yankees’ hierarchy — including the managing general partner, Hal Steinbrenner; the chief operating officer, Lonn Trost; the senior vice president, Deborah Tymon; and Levine — decided on placing the plaque in Monument Park. 

When Mandela visited a packed Yankee Stadium on June 21, 1990, the concert featured Richie Havens, Tracy Chapman, Mighty Sparrow and Judy Collins. He placed a Yankees cap on his head, Mayor David Dinkins draped a team jacket over his shoulders, and Mandela declared: “You know who I am. I am a Yankee.” 

The Yankees’ principal owner, George Steinbrenner, who died in 2010 and is also honored in Monument Park, was said to have been so pleased with Mandela’s declaration that he did not charge the city for having hosted the event. 

A soccer fan and a boxer in his youth, Mandela long understood the importance of sports as a politically unifying force, which he demonstrated by enthusiastically supporting the South African rugby team in its 1995 World Cup championship drive, even though rugby had traditionally been a sport for the white South African minority. 

His proclamation that he was a Yankee, especially at a time when the team was in last place in the American League East, endeared him not only to Steinbrenner, but to many baseball fans as well." photo from NY Times. via btf. btf comment thread. Yankees ended 1990 with 67W, 95L

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