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Honorary degree citation to Willie Mays (Doctor of Humane Letters)
At age sixteen you played baseball with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro League. Your father hoped for you to become a professional, but he also insisted that you stay in school. On the day you graduated from high school, you signed with the New York Giants, and in 1951 you were called up to the majors - at just twenty years of age.
A gifted player, you excelled at hitting, running, fielding, and throwing. Season after season you mesmerized America, amazing us with your athleticism, your poise, and your love for the game. The "Say Hey Kid," you had an astounding career record of 3,283 hits, 660 home runs, 4 World Series, and 24 All-Star games. In 1979 you were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
As a pioneer Black player at a time when the country and the game confronted racism, you endured taunts and threats. You never flinched. Your talent and your commitment to the game were response enough. You were, quite simply, the greatest all-around ballplayer of the twentieth century.
Having fulfilled your father's two dreams, you now fulfill the dreams of disadvantaged children. The Say Hey Foundation provides disadvantaged children with access to educational opportunities and promotes community improvements.
Dartmouth rejoices in your achievements, both on and off the field, and is delighted to recognize you with its degree Doctor of Humane Letters.
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