Willie Mays will not attend Negro League tribute in Ala.

Mon Jun 17 1:41pm ET
Field Level Media

Willie Mays will not attend Thursday's game between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals that will honor him and the Negro Leagues, according to a statement he made Monday to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The former Giants great, 93, started his career with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues before joining the San Francisco Giants in 1951 in a Major League career that lasted more than two decades.

"I'm not able to get to Birmingham this year but will follow the game back here in the Bay Area," Mays said in the statement. "My heart will be with all of you who are honoring the Negro League ballplayers, who should always be remembered, including all my teammates on the Black Barons."

One of the greatest to ever play the game, Mays hit 660 home runs, scored 2,068 runs and notched 3,293 hits while winning one World Series with the Giants (1954). He's a 24-time All-Star and earned National League MVP titles in 1954 and 1965.

Thursday's game between the Giants and Cardinals in Alabama is part of a collaboration between MLB and the nonprofit group Friends of Rickwood to renovate the oldest professional ballpark in the United States while celebrating the history of the Negro Leagues. The 114-year-old park was home to the Barons from 1924 to 1960.

All former Negro League players have been invited to attend Thursday's game, and 60 players are reportedly expected to attend the first-ever MLB game played in Alabama.

"I wanted to thank Major League Baseball, the Giants, the Cardinals and all the fans who'll be at Rickwood or watching the game," Mays said in his statement. "It'll be a special day, and I hope the kids will enjoy it and be inspired by it."

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