Willie Mays sends statement to Birmingham. Read what he wrote

Updated

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. − Willie Mays was remembered in his native Birmingham, Alabama, on Wednesday during a Juneteenth celebration at the Negro Southern League Museum.

The heartbreaking part of the day was Mays - who died Tuesday at 93 - was not around to hear the memories shared by former players or stories told by relatives of Negro Leagues greats who idolized one of baseball's icons.

Mays, who had said Monday he would not be able to make the trip as planned, gave a statement to friend Dusty Baker to share at the event.

A mural of Willie Mays was unveiled in Birmingham, Alabama, where he played in the Negro Leagues in the 1940s.
A mural of Willie Mays was unveiled in Birmingham, Alabama, where he played in the Negro Leagues in the 1940s.

Mays, a Hall of Famer who slugged more than 600 home runs and is probably best known for his over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series, gifted a clock to Birmingham, where a mural was unveiled in the city where he played in the Negro Leagues in the 1940s.

Willie Mays gifted a clock to Birmingham.
Willie Mays gifted a clock to Birmingham.

The statement, given to Baker on Monday, reads:

"I wish I could be with you all today. This is where I'm from. I had my first pro hit here at Rickwood as a Baron in 1948. And now this year 76 years later, it finally got counted in the record books. Some things take time, but I always think better late than never. Time changes things. Time heals wounds, and that is a good thing. I had some of the best times of my life and Birmingham so I want you to have this clock to remember those times with me and remember all the other players who were lucky enough to play here at Rickwood Field in Birmingham. Remember, time is on your side."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Willie Mays' statement to his native Birmingham

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