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Road to bear name of baseball legend

August 05, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

The stretch of East Memorial Boulevard that goes past Municipal Stadium will have its name extended to include "Willie Mays Way," at least through the baseball season, Mayor William M. Breichner said Wednesday.

The addition went on the street signs between Eastern Boulevard and South Potomac Street on Wednesday, city officials said.

Breichner said the temporary addition was to honor and recognize Mays, who played his first professional baseball game for the Major League Baseball organization in Hagerstown in 1950. Mays was a member of the visiting Trenton, N.J., team that was part of the New York Giants' farm system.

Mays, 73, a Hall of Fame member, will be in town Monday for a reception at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center Antietam Creek on Dual Highway. Then he will go to Municipal Stadium for a ceremony before the Hagerstown Suns' scheduled 7:05 p.m. game.

Since that 1950 game here, Mays has said Hagerstown was the worst place he ever faced as a ballplayer because of the racial epithets hurled at him.

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Hagerstown Suns General Manager Kurt Landes has said the stadium appearance is especially appropriate because it might bring closure to Mays' unpleasant experience here as a young player.

Breichner said adding to the street name is a gesture for Mays to know the poor treatment he received here in 1950 was wrong and that this community is diverse.

Breichner said he would like to make Willie Mays Way permanent, but did not know what City Council members thought about it.

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