Yanks to honor Nelson Mandela

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees will honor Nelson Mandela with a plaque in Monument Park to commemorate the late South African leader's memorable visit to New York in 1990.

After being released from a South Africa prison, Mandela donned a Yankees hat and jacket at a rally at the old stadium and declared, "You know who I am. I am a Yankee."

Mandela died at 95 last week.

According to Hector Figueroa, the president of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, called Yankees president Randy Levine on Friday with the idea of honoring Mandela. Levine discussed the concept with owner Hal Steinbrenner and senior vice president Deborah Tymon, among others. Everyone agreed it was a great idea.

The plaque will be unveiled April 15, Jackie Robinson Day, when the Yankees face the Chicago Cubs.

"Nelson Mandela's visit was a transcendent moment in the history of the original Yankee Stadium," Steinbrenner said in a statement. "We want this plaque to be an everlasting tribute to his indomitable spirit and unfailing dignity."

The only other non-Yankees to be honored in Monument Park are Pope Paul VI , Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who all visited the stadium. The victims of Sept. 11 are also remembered in the park.