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Yanks honor Mandela prior to tonight's nightcap

NEW YORK -- The Yankees will unveil a plaque to honor Nelson Mandela on Wednesday, an event that was to coincide with the annual celebration of Jackie Robinson Day by Major League Baseball but was postponed a day due to rain.

Mandela's grandson, Zondwa Mandela, will be present at the Stadium, and the Yankees said that South African Consul General George Monyemangene and Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang will also attend. The formal unveiling of the plaque will take place in Monument Park prior to the Yankees' 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Cubs. A news conference is scheduled for 4:30.

Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, and their daughter Sharon are also expected to be at Yankee Stadium, joined by Commissioner Bud Selig.

The Yankees will be represented by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, general partner Hank Steinbrenner, general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal and president Randy Levine.

Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Rev. Al Sharpton have also committed to attend.

The Yankees announced their plans for the Mandela plaque last December. The plaque will celebrate the life of the former South African leader and commemorate his June 21, 1990, visit to Yankee Stadium.

On that day, Yankee Stadium was opened to fans, who enjoyed musical performances from Richie Havens, Tracy Chapman, Mighty Sparrow and Judy Collins.

Following a day of meeting and addressing New Yorkers in various locations around the city, Mandela arrived at Yankee Stadium and spoke to the assembled crowd, then donned a Yankees cap and jacket before declaring, "You know who I am. I am a Yankee."

At the time of his appearance, Mandela was just four months removed from having spent 27 years in prison. Mandela died Dec. 5 at the age of 95.

While Monument Park is well known for honoring former Yankees, several non-baseball tributes are also included. There are plaques to honor Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, all of whom visited the Stadium, as well as a monument to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
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