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Reaction to the death of Willie Mays, 'the godfather of center fielders'

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Reaction to the death of Willie Mays, 'the godfather of center fielders'
News

News

Reaction to the death of Willie Mays, 'the godfather of center fielders'

2024-06-19 13:01 Last Updated At:13:11

Reaction from the sports world and beyond to the death of baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays. He died Tuesday at age 93, Mays' family and the San Francisco Giants jointly announced. Mays’ electrifying combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest and most beloved players.

"I am beyond devastated and overcome with emotion. I have no words to describe what you mean to me — you helped shape me to be who I am today. Thank you for being my Godfather and always being there. Give my dad a big hug for me. Rest in peace Willie. I love you forever. #SayHey" — Former Giants slugger and Mays' godson, Barry Bonds.

“He’s the godfather of center fielders. When you think about playing center field and you’re a person of color, that’s who they compare you to. For him to pull me aside and spend all the time he did with me meant a lot." — Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.

“Willie Mays wasn’t just a singular athlete, blessed with an unmatched combination of grace, skill and power. He was also a wonderfully warm and generous person - and an inspiration to an entire generation. I’m lucky to have spent time with him over the years, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family.” — Former President Barack Obama.

“He was a guy I talked to a lot, and we talked baseball. He had a little office right by mine up there. And so I was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with that man. Of course, what a legend he is, could be the best, the greatest player of all time, that’s how good he was.” — Former San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

“His incredible achievements and statistics do not begin to describe the awe that came with watching Willie Mays dominate the game in every way imaginable. We will never forget this true Giant on and off the field.” — MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

“I was a big Willie Mays fan, what he meant to the game, what he meant to California, all the Giants fans out there and especially me growing up. You wanted to play like Willie and make those catches that he did. The numbers he put up on the field and what he did are impressive, but him as a person and him as a human being is even bigger. He was bigger than baseball. He was something special and the baseball world is definitely going to be missing a great one.” — New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, who grew up in Northern California.

“RIP Willie Mays. You changed the game forever and inspired kids like me to chase our dream. Thank you for everything that you did on and off the field. Always in our hearts.” — Former pitcher CC Sabathia.

“I’m devastated to hear about the passing of the legendary Hall of Famer Willie Mays, one of the main reasons I fell in love with baseball. Cookie and I are praying for his family, friends, and fans during this difficult time.” — NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

“The great Willie Mays has passed away. It was a privilege to know him. We were both honored by @MLB in 2010 with the Beacon Award, given to civil rights pioneers. He was a such a kind soul, who gifted my brother Randy a new glove and a television during his rookie year with the @SFGiants. My deepest condolences to his family. He will be missed.” — Tennis legend Billie Jean King.

“Willie Mays’ passion for the game and incredible talent made him the embodiment of baseball for millions of fans and one of the most beloved players in history. More than a half century after his playing days, he remained an American treasure and a baseball icon synonymous with love of the game. His ever-present smile and joyous presence radiated throughout Cooperstown, and we will forever cherish his legacy. For teammates, opponents and friends, Willie Mays exemplified excellence.” — Baseball Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark.

"Willie ended his Hall of Fame career in Queens and was a key piece to the 1973 NL championship team. Mays played with a style and grace like no one else. Alex and I were thrilled to honor a previous promise from Joan Payson to retire his iconic #24 as a member of the Mets in 2022. On behalf of our entire organization, we send our thoughts and prayers to Willie’s family and friends.” — Mets owners Steve and Alex Cohen.

“From his professional debut with the Birmingham Black Barons at age 17 through his 24 All-Star Games to his Hall of Fame induction in 1979, Willie's skill on the field and impact off it elevated him to a stature that was larger than life.” — MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark.

“The great Willie Mays has passed away. Had the honor of talking with him several times. He loved that we mentioned his ’54 World Series catch in City Slickers. The man who hit the ball and the “ Giant” who caught it signed this ball. RIP #24.. a thrill to watch you play.” — Actor Billy Crystal.

“Best player I’ve ever seen. Greatest player. I fortunately grew up in the Bay Area during Mays’ prime, and he was a five-tool player, an extraordinarily good five-tool player. You’d go to a game and he would do something. Whether it would be a great catch, a great throw, a stolen base, hit a home run or he’d do them all. He was just that kind of player. ... What always came off was that he was the ‘Say Hey Kid.' He had that ebullient personality. Infectious and genuine, and I got to tell him he was the greatest player I ever saw.” — Former player Keith Hernandez.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

FILE - Baseball great Willie Mays smiles prior to a game between the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, Aug. 19, 2016. Mays, the electrifying “Say Hey Kid” whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest and most beloved players, has died. He was 93. Mays' family and the San Francisco Giants jointly announced Tuesday night, June 18, 2024, he had “passed away peacefully” Tuesday afternoon surrounded by loved ones. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

FILE - Baseball great Willie Mays smiles prior to a game between the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, Aug. 19, 2016. Mays, the electrifying “Say Hey Kid” whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest and most beloved players, has died. He was 93. Mays' family and the San Francisco Giants jointly announced Tuesday night, June 18, 2024, he had “passed away peacefully” Tuesday afternoon surrounded by loved ones. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

FILE - San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays displays the four baseballs in the clubhouse representing the four homers which he hit against the Milwaukee Braves, April 30, 1961, in Milwaukee. Mays, the electrifying “Say Hey Kid” whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest and most beloved players, has died. He was 93. Mays' family and the San Francisco Giants jointly announced Tuesday night, June 18, 2024, he had “passed away peacefully” Tuesday afternoon surrounded by loved ones. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays displays the four baseballs in the clubhouse representing the four homers which he hit against the Milwaukee Braves, April 30, 1961, in Milwaukee. Mays, the electrifying “Say Hey Kid” whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest and most beloved players, has died. He was 93. Mays' family and the San Francisco Giants jointly announced Tuesday night, June 18, 2024, he had “passed away peacefully” Tuesday afternoon surrounded by loved ones. (AP Photo, File)

Fans stand for a moment of silence for former MLB player Willie Mays during the sixth inning of a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs in Chicago, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Fans stand for a moment of silence for former MLB player Willie Mays during the sixth inning of a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs in Chicago, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone strike early Friday that hit part of central Tel Aviv near the U.S. Embassy, killing one person and injuring 10.

The aerial strike rumbled through the streets causing shards of shrapnel to rain down and spreading shards of glass over a large radius. The Houthis have launched drones and missiles toward Israel throughout the Israel-Hamas war, in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against Israel. But until Friday, all were intercepted by either Israel or Western allies with forces stationed in the region.

Yahya Sare'e, the Houthis' spokesperson, said in a statement published on the social media platform X that the strike was made in retaliation for the war and had hit one of many of the group's targets.

The Houthis claimed their newest drones can bypass Israel's aerial defense systems. However, an Israeli military official on Friday that the explosive-laden drone had been identified on Thursday and attributed the hit to “human error.” The military's assessment of aerial threats has not changed because, the military said, Israel's adversaries have attempted such strikes for months.

“It was a terror attack that was targeted to kill civilians in Israel,” the official said of the strike, the first to threaten Tel Aviv in months.

Local police said the blast sounded at around 3:10 a.m., reverberating to nearby cities and physically injuring at least 10 people. Tel Aviv District Commander Peretz Amar said officers could not locate the point of contact, suggesting the explosion occurred in the air, however Israel's military said they had not determined whether the drone — or pieces of it — had struck buildings.

It blew out windows of a number of buildings and damaged cars in the neighborhood near the coastline. People thronged to the area as police helicopters hovered overhead.

Many of the roughly 60,000 Israelis evacuated from their homes earlier in the war have found housing in the area. For many, it reaffirmed feelings of disillusionment with how the military has handled the war over the past nine months.

Yossi Nevi, a retired evacuee from Kiryat Shmona living in a nearby hotel in Tel Aviv said the blast shook him awake to watch the aftermath from his balcony and decreased his faith in the army's management of the war. He said many expected such a strike to come from the north, which the military said had not been the case.

Hearing it was a human error, Nevi said, made him lose “all trust in the army, not that I had much after the past nine months.”

Eldad Namdar, who owns a camera store next to the intersection where the drone exploded, said some of his items had fallen but there was no major damage. While he hopes the war ends soon, he also wants it to be concluded in a way that secures his future.

“I don’t want this to happen again in six months, I want them to finish this situation until the end,” he said.

The Houthi strike hit hours after Israel’s military confirmed one of its airstrikes had killed a Hezbollah commander and other militants in southern Lebanon. Israel has so far not made attacks on the Houthis, allowing its allies instead to take the lead as it focuses its efforts on the war in Gaza and ongoing fighting with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group.

The Houthis have routinely claimed responsibility for hitting targets in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. They maintain that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or the United Kingdom however many have little or no connection to the war. Friday’s drone strike on Tel Aviv could resurface fears about the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas expanding into a regionwide conflagration as international mediators continue to push for a cease-fire. The three-phase deal under discussion would halt fighting and free about 120 hostages held by the militant group in Gaza.

Such fears run counter to renewed hopes that Israel signaling its operation underway in Rafah nearing its finish could foster an environment more conducive to negotiations. The country remains divided over striking a deal, with some wanting the government to take the necessary steps to free the hostages and others, including far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir disavowing the idea. On Thursday, Ben-Gvir visited Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site to pray for the return of Israeli hostages, he said, “without a reckless deal, without surrendering.”

Israel possesses a multilayered aerial defense system, capable of intercepting threats ranging from long-range ballistic missiles to drones and short-range missiles. These systems have intercepted thousands of projectiles throughout the war. But officials warn they are not 100% effective, and the systems appear to have struggled against small and hard-to-detect attack drones. A military official said the system had identified the weapon but due to human error, was not set to alarm in case of attack.

Like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis are backed by Israel’s arch enemy, Iran. Israel for the most part also has avoided a direct confrontation with Iran throughout the war. Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel during a single incident in April in response to Israel’s alleged assassination of a pair of Iranian generals in Syria at the time.

The war in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, has killed more than 38,600 people, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. The war has created a humanitarian catastrophe in the coastal Palestinian territory, displaced most of its 2.3 million population and triggered widespread hunger.

Hamas’ October attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and militants took about 250 hostage. About 120 remain in captivity, with about a third of them believed to be dead, according to Israeli authorities.

Metz reported from Rabat, Morocco. Michael Wakin contributed from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

An Israeli firefighter investigates the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

An Israeli firefighter investigates the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man watches from his window at the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man watches from his window at the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene after a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene after a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israelis gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israelis gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A runner stops to speak with Israeli police investigating the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A runner stops to speak with Israeli police investigating the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People watch from their balcony as Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People watch from their balcony as Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man eats breakfast in a cafe near the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man eats breakfast in a cafe near the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Caution tape surrounds debris at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

Caution tape surrounds debris at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

Israeli police and first responders gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

Israeli police and first responders gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

People gather at the scene of an deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

People gather at the scene of an deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

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