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Mandela to be honored with plaque in Monument Park

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees announced on Monday that they plan to honor Nelson Mandela with a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

A formal dedication is scheduled to take place as part of the Jackie Robinson Day festivities on April 15 of next season, prior to the Yankees' game against the Cubs.

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 at the end of the concert. He 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 passed away last week at the age of 95.

"Nelson Mandela's visit was a transcendent moment in the history of the original Yankee Stadium," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. "We want this plaque to be an everlasting tribute to his indomitable spirit and unfailing dignity."

The Yankees said that they will work with a group of civic leaders and labor representatives to plan the events surrounding the ceremony.

While Monument Park is well known for honoring former Yankees, several non-baseball tributes are also present in the area. 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.

New York Yankees