Tears Of Joy From A Legend

By Darlene Superville
Updated: July 18, 2009

Barack Obama ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — Willie Mays says he was so proud the night Barack Obama was elected president that he “cried for most of the night.”

The 78-year-old Hall of Fame center fielder spoke with reporters as he flew with Obama from Michigan to St. Louis for Tuesday night’s All-Star game. Obama was throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Mays, who played most of his career with the Giants, said he met Obama in Chicago on election night in November. He said he reminded Obama that he had dreamed about the day when someone of their race would be elected president.

Mays and many others began playing pro baseball when segregation was still widespread.

Filled with pride on the night of a historic election that made Obama the nation’s first black president, Mays said he stayed up until 7 or 8 o’clock the next morning.

“I reminded him that I cried for most of the night in Chicago,” said Mays, still emotional about that night eight months ago.

“So that tells me all the things I went through, it was for good things,” said Mays, who wore an orange-trimmed, black Giants baseball cap with his suit. “So I’m just proud of him, you know. He may be proud of something else. But I’m proud of him, what he stands for.”

Mays said his one bit of advice to Obama for the first pitch was: “Follow through.”

Obama, who warmed up on the White House grounds Monday, didn’t bounce it, but St. Louis’ Albert Pujols did reach out to scoop the toss as it barely reached home plate.