Giants celebrate Mays' 90th at Oracle Park

May 8th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle Park was in full party mode Friday night before the Giants’ series opener against the Padres, with the Giants hosting a belated birthday celebration for franchise icon , who turned 90 on Thursday. 

Mays, the oldest living Hall of Famer, received a standing ovation as he rode around the ballpark in a white and baby blue 1956 Oldsmobile before first pitch. Players from both teams stood at the top of their respective dugouts to salute Mays, who doffed his Giants cap to the crowd as he circled the stadium while The Treniers’ “Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)” played in the background.

Appropriately, the Giants cut a celebratory logo of Mays across the grass in center field, his primary position over his legendary 22-year career in the Majors. The pregame ceremony included several video tributes to Mays from luminaries such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Commissioner Rob Manfred and former Giants stars Will Clark and Dave Dravecky. 

The Giants also hung a banner congratulating the Say Hey Kid in front of the ballpark, placing a party hat atop the Mays statue that sits at the center of his eponymous plaza. Mays ranks sixth on the all-time list with 660 home runs and is viewed as arguably the best all-around player in Major League history.

“I think when you think of the name Willie Mays, it's almost like a mythological type of name,” catcher Buster Posey said before the game. “It has the same feeling as a Babe Ruth or a Lou Gehrig.

“Honestly, the reason that people still talk about him today is just because of how incredible a baseball player he was and for how long he played. His accomplishments as a baseball player will forever stand the test of time.”

Mays’ impact continues to resonate off the field as well. To honor Mays, the Giants Community Fund on Thursday launched the Willie Mays Scholars, a college prep and scholarship program to support Black youth living in San Francisco.

Beginning this fall, five scholars will be inducted annually and receive support throughout high school and college in the form of academic programming, holistic support and a college scholarship. The need-based program is available to Black ninth-graders living in San Francisco, with each scholar receiving approximately $70,000 worth of support, including a college scholarship of up to $20,000.

According to education data from TownCharts, only 31% of Black San Franciscans who are at least 25 years old attain a bachelor’s degree, compared to 74% of the white population. The Willie Mays Scholars program hopes to tackle racial and educational inequities by providing additional opportunities for Black youth in San Francisco to prepare for, attend and succeed in college. 

“I have always made kids my priority by helping them in any way I could throughout my playing career and life,” Mays said in a statement. “To have the Giants Community Fund and the Giants ownership group create this program in my name and to provide a path to college for Black children in our community means the world to me. I can’t wait to meet the first class of Willie Mays Scholars to offer my encouragement and support.”