On Friday, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, "The Greatest of All Time," passed away at age 74. Ali was one of the most iconic athletes in history, and his life impacted many, including players, managers and coaches throughout Major League Baseball. They shared their memories and stories of Ali, and their
On Friday, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, "The Greatest of All Time," passed away at age 74. Ali was one of the most iconic athletes in history, and his life impacted many, including players, managers and coaches throughout Major League Baseball. They shared their memories and stories of Ali, and their thoughts on his passing and his legacy.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker
"It's a tremendous loss. Ali gave us all, especially young black men, a sense of pride and strength."
On meeting Ali several times, including at the first Civil Rights Game in Cincinnati in 2009: "It was real cool. He was always a champ. He was always special. At that time, you hoped that he was able to talk. Earlier, especially when he was younger, you did most of the listening and he did most of that talking. That made it easy."
Astros manager A.J. Hinch
On meeting Ali at the 1996 Olympics: "The scoreboard was fixated on him, and I remember how quiet it was. It felt like the entire world was watching this moment where you have the greatest boxer in the world, this historic figure, maybe the most recognizable athlete in the history of our time, kicking off what for us was a really special event. It's burned into my brain as one of the highlights of my life."
Marlins special assistant Andre Dawson
On his interactions with Ali, who once visited his elementary school class in Miami: "He touched a lot of lives. This is my own personal opinion: He is probably the most prolific athlete ever. You just think of the word 'champion.' To me, he just championed life."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon
"If you're of [a certain] age, a part of your childhood is gone, actually. It's a marker for all of us."
Rays pitcher Chris Archer
"He was definitely a person who stood up for what he believed in. And that's admirable. And he was somebody who had a lot of conviction behind his actions in his craft. And that's something that an athlete, or anybody in the world, can learn from, is to have conviction behind their craft."
Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton
On taking a photo with Ali at the first game at Marlins Park in 2012: "When you grow up, there's like a handful of guys who are at the top. Those are the guys you want to meet. All you need is a photo of them. You don't need to say something to them sometimes. He's definitely one of them."
Mets manager Terry Collins
"It's always sad when you lose an icon like that. I felt so bad for him in recent years, the shape he was in. I watched a [show] today on him. You saw that great energy and all that enthusiasm and all that. The smile. It hadn't been there in a long time. We certainly wish the family the best. This guy made an impact on the sports world. Certainly, it won't be forgotten for many, many years."
Brewers manager Craig Counsell
On meeting Ali at Spring Training in 2011: "He's just got a huge presence. There are famous people, known people, who walk in the room and you feel something. He had this way of being in a room, and he was the biggest presence by far. Not by trying to take it over -- he just took it over."
Padres outfielder Matt Kemp
On meeting Ali, his idol, at Spring Training in Arizona: "Probably one of the best times of my life."
"He just brought that swag, not just to boxing but to all sports. He was smart, man. The way he talked, the way he carried himself, he was cocky, but in a cool way. Everybody enjoyed his presence. I think he was a lot of people's hero, and he's definitely going to be missed."
Rockies catcher Nick Hundley
"When I was with the Padres, he came to Spring Training. He came to the clubhouse. I got to take a picture with him, shake his hand. Everybody was pretty excited about it. He played his game at the highest level."
Rays outfielder Brandon Guyer
"I think what he did for the combat sport, he made it what it is today. He paved the way for the great boxers, even the UFC, where that is today. So he's one of a kind."
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria
"He definitely transcends sport in general. It's a sad day for all of the sporting world."
Giants instructor Shawon Dunston
On Ali and Willie Mays visiting the Giants' clubhouse on the same day: "It was like Mays took a back seat to Ali. We look at Mays the same way. Don't get me wrong. But we see Willie every day. Willie is like a big brother to all of us, so we're used to it. Then when you see somebody who's bigger than Mays, it was like, 'Whoa.'"
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.