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Nelson Mandela honored with plaque in Monument Park

Derek Jeter of the Yankees poses for a

Derek Jeter of the Yankees poses for a photograph prior to a game against the Chicago Cubs with with Lindo Mandela, Zondwa Mandela, Rachel Robinson, Sharon Robinson, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton before the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Nelson Mandela once famously said, "You know who I am. I am a Yankee."

Now, the deceased South African president and legendary apartheid freedom fighter will be honored as a Yankee, the organization announced.

The Yankees dedicated a plaque in honor of Mandela Wednesday with his grandson, Zondwa Mandela, present at the Stadium. The ceremony was to be held on April 15 -- Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball -- but rain postponed Tuesday's game. The plaque was unveiled publicly in Monument Park before the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Cubs.

The ceremony also recognized the memory of Jackie Robinson and in attendance were Robinson's widow, Rachel; their daughter, Sharon; South African Consul General George Monyemangene; Harry Belafonte; former mayor David Dinkins, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton.

Nelson Mandela visited Yankee Stadium on June 21, 1990 and, sporting a team cap, declared himself a Yankee. Mandela died in December at age 95.

"It makes me feel very proud and excited to see such a great man being remembered and followed," Rachel Robinson, 91, said. "His legacy is very strong and we need to remember it and pass it along to our young people."

The head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang, also asked that the Yankees have the players wear No. 67 in their July 18 game against the Reds. The purpose, Hatang said, would be to recognize Mandela's "67 years of fighting for social justice" and because it has been 67 years since Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball. Hatang said the Yankees told him they will try to fulfill the request.


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