Richmond City Council on Tuesday approved a proposal to rename Baseball Diamond #2 at Nicholl Park after San Francisco Giants legend Willie Mays.
“This is an excellent opportunity to recognize a hall of famer and a national figure who has contributed significantly to the City of Richmond through our Richmond baseball programs,” said Councilmember Nat Bates, who brought the proposal before the council.
Mays participated in annual March of Dimes charitable events at Nicholl Park for a decade. His visits to Richmond also included collaborating with fellow baseball players to work with Little League teams.
Bates envisions inviting Mays, who turns 91 on May 6, to Richmond on or near his birthday for a renaming celebration.
“The plan is to ferry Mr. Mays from San Francisco to Richmond and to have him escorted through a parade, a caravan, to Nicholl Park, where a dedication will take place,” Bates said, adding that local youth clubs, such as the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante, Salesian Boys & Girls Club, Richmond Police Activities League, Bay Area Girls Club and others.
Joey Smith, chair of the Recreation & Parks Commission, said the idea to name Ballfield #2 after Mays originated from Charles Cavness in 2015.
“We have gone through the process of reaching out to all who are in the neighborhoods, worked with the Mayor’s Office, worked with Councilmember Bates to get us connected to Mr. Mays, as well as the City of San Francisco,” Smith said.
The recognition “is long overdue,” Smith said, noting Mays’ philanthropy including scholarships and his work with local youth.
“It made absolute sense to honor this gentleman, this athlete, this philanthropist,” she said.
Supporters of the renaming effort include the Park Plaza Neighborhood Council; Pullman Neighborhood Council; Laurel Park Neighborhood Council; North and East Neighborhood Council; Hilltop Neighborhood Council; and The South Side Improvement Group Plus One.
Link to Willie Mays Photo via Flickr here.