“My childhood hero was Willie Mays, the great center fielder for the New York Giants (now San Francisco). I remember first being thrilled by his sensational catch in the 1954 World Series.
So, imagine my excitement a couple years later, when my parents took me to Milwaukee to see the Braves play the Giants. Even more exciting, the Giants players and we were staying in the same hotel.
To my dismay, however, they had arrived just before we did and were already in their rooms. All that remained were their suitcases on the sidewalk. My father and I looked over their name tags, and he asked me, ‘Who is Number 24?’
‘That’s Willie Mays’ number!’ I replied. The bellman, who had been searching unsuccessfully for that suitcase, thanked me and then asked, ‘Would you like to meet him?’
Would I? Would I!
We walked down the hotel hallway, the bellman knocked on the door, and Willie Mays opened it. ‘This young man found your suitcase Mr. Mays,’ the bellman said, and my hero smiled at me!
He looked at least eight feet tall, as I offered up my baseball for his autograph. ‘To Mark, Best Wishes, Willie Mays,’ he wrote.
Sadly, somewhere, somehow, that baseball was lost. The memory, however, will last a lifetime.”
—Governor Mark Dayton
What’s your favorite Minnesota sports memory? Share it in the comments below.
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