The White House announced on Monday that Willie Mays and Yogi Berra will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama on November 24.
The Medal of Freedom is considered the highest civilian honor and is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Bonnie Carroll, Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan, Lee Hamilton, Barbara Mikulski, Katherine G. Johnson, Itzhak Perlman, William Ruckelshaus, Steven Spielberg, Stephen Sondheim, Barbra Streisand and James Taylor are the other recipients of this year's awards. Shirley Chisholm, Billy Frank Jr. and Minoru Yasui will be honored posthumously.
Joe DiMaggio and Jesse Owens were the first sports figures to be awarded the honor in 1977. Ted Williams (1991), Hank Aaron (2002), Frank Robinson (2005), Buck O'Neil (2006), Stan Musial (2011) and Ernie Banks (2013) are the other baseball recipients.
Berra will join Jackie Robinson (1984) and Roberto Clemente (2003) as the third baseball player to be honored posthumously.
Berra died in September at the age of 90. He spent 18 seasons with New York, and was arguably one of the greatest catchers of all-time. The baseball legend, who was known for his famous Yogi-isms, was a member of 18 consecutive American League All-Star teams from 1948 to ’62. He was also the league MVP in 1951, ’54 and ’55.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner issued the following statement:
“On behalf of the entire Yankees organization, we congratulate the family of Yogi Berra for his inclusion among upcoming recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This honor is a fitting tribute to a man who not only represented the sport of baseball with unequaled dignity and humor, but exemplified the best virtues of our country through his military service and compassion for others. His life was truly the embodiment of the American dream”
- Christopher Chavez