Mays, Berra named Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:42pm EST
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday named Major League Baseball Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Yogi Berra recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Mays, 84, played 22 years in the majors, won two National League most valuable player awards and retired after the 1973 season with 660 home runs, the fifth most of all-time.

Lawrence Peter Berra, known to the world as Yogi, who died in September at the age of 90, was a catcher with the New York Yankees and one of the sports world's most loved and frequently quoted figures.

Calling Mays and Berra "accomplished and beloved figures," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said: "Both served their country, made enduring contributions to the Great American Game and created indelible memories for millions of its fans."

Mays played 21 seasons with the New York Giants and San Francisco Giants franchise and was one of the first African-American players in the majors.

"As everyone knows, Willie is a national treasure and one of the greatest players in the history of baseball," Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement.

"I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to recognize Willie for his endless contributions to our national pastime."

Berra, a 10-time World Series champion, was a feared clutch hitter who helped the Yankees dominate baseball from 1947 to 1963.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) acknowledges Hall of Fame player Willie Mays (L) during a reception for the San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball's 2014 World Series champions, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 4, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst