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New York Yankees honor Nelson Mandela with stadium memorial

updated 12:22 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Nelson Mandela declared himself a New York Yankees fan during a concert and rally at Yankee Stadium on June 21, 1990 -- just months after his release from prison. Nelson Mandela declared himself a New York Yankees fan during a concert and rally at Yankee Stadium on June 21, 1990 -- just months after his release from prison.
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New York Yankees honor Nelson Mandela
New York Yankees honor Nelson Mandela
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New York Yankees unveil a plaque to honor Nelson Mandela
  • The late South African president visited Yankees Stadium in 1990
  • The plaque was revealed as part of the MLB's Jackie Robinson Day activities
  • Civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Jackson and singer Harry Belafonte attend unveiling

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(CNN) -- Nelson Mandela will always have a place at Yankee Stadium after the U.S. baseball giants unveiled a plaque in his honor, Wednesday.

The late South African president visited the home of the New York Yankees in 1990, just four months after he was released from his 27-year incarceration.

Wearing a Yankees cap and jacket, Mandela arrived at the stadium 24 years ago and announced to the assembled crowd: "You know who I am. I am a Yankee."

Mandela has now been immortalized in Yankee history with a plaque inside Monument Park, a museum which normally only recognizes former team greats.

Honoring Jackie Robinson
Reggie Jackson on race and politics

The dedication to Mandela reads: "Nobel peace prize winner and global leader, whose tireless efforts dismantled apartheid in South Africa.

"As president of his country, he would use South Africa's enthusiasm for sports as a unifying force for reconciliation.

"In words and deeds, he became an inspirational leader to the world."

Nelson Mandela: A fighter's life

The commemorative plaque was unveiled as part of Major League Baseball's Jackie Robinson Day, which celebrates the first African-American to play in the modern era.

Robinson's wife Rachel and daughter Sharon attended the event.

Civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Jackson, singer and activist Harry Belafonte, Zondwa Mandela, Nelson Mandela's grandson, and his wife and president of the New York Yankees, Randy Levine, were among a gathering of special guests.

Mandela died at the age of 95 in December 2013. He is remembered as a freedom fighter, prisoner, moral compass and South Africa's symbol of the struggle against racial oppression.

Watch: Honoring Jackie Robinson

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