What’s more impressive: That Nelson Mandela publicly supported the Yankees even when they were in the cellar of the American League East, or that George Steinbrenner was so pleased with Mandela and his statements that he didn’t charge the city of New York for hosting Mandela’s Yankee Stadium rally?
Both are true, according to the New York Times, and that’s why Mandela will become just the fourth person from outside the organization to be honored in the Yankees’ Monument Park this spring. The other three are popes. The victims of the Sept. 11 attacks also have a plaque in the area behind center field.
Mandela’s special tribute will be unveiled April 15, on Jackie Robinson Day.
Mandela visited Yankee Stadium on June 21, 1990, for a concert and rally. He was given a Yankees hat and jacket and told the full park, “You know who I am. I am a Yankee.” The Yankees were far from the juggernaut they would become, and Mandela’s support especially endeared him to Steinbrenner, according to the Times.
Mandela had a long history with sports, including his support of South Africa’s rugby team as it made its 1995 World Cup run. Now he’s due to be immortalized among some of the greats.
Photo via Twitter/@I_KMalone