Giants fans memorialize Willie Mays, remark on his impact

The Bay Area is continuing to react to the death of a man synonymous with San Francisco, and sports.

Near the corner of 3rd & King streets in San Francisco, a doorway calls to those on a pilgrimage to pay their last respects to Willie Mays.

"It wasn’t supposed to be open, but it was so hey let’s take advantage and let’s go enjoy the museum," said LaSean Boyd, Sr., who brought his son with him. Added Sarah Plotkin, a Giants fan who was wearing a number 24 Giants jersey with "Mays" across the back of shoulders, "I was supposed to be in a Buddhist retreat online. But to me, Willie is a teacher."

The "Say Hey" Experience is a pop-up museum that is usually open on game days only. Wednesday, it was also a shrine to Willie Mays. There are multiple videos looped to play continuously; pictures; and memorabilia of what many believed was major league baseball’s greatest player.

"Because of the situation, we wanted to the space, give fans a chance to pay their respects. Honor the legend that Willie Mays is," said museum manager Patrick Fogerty.

At midday and into the early afternoon, people filed in, to remark on Mays’ greatness on and off the field.

"You always hear about Willie. You see everything he’s done in the park. You see the stature every time you pass by the gates. So he’s just been a huge part of it," said Giants fan J.R. Hickman. Added Mays fan Katherine Szwanek, "He’s all over the (Oracle) park. 24, 24, 24 he’s all over the place."

At Willie Mays Plaza, in front of Oracle Park, the Home of the San Francisco Giants, a large statue of Mays is now also a shrine to the long-time great. This, for a man who began his life in a segregated society, and at his death, there is a multicultural outpouring of love for his legacy, which is literally carved in stone and cemented in the baseball record books.

"All the challenges he had to go through for us to be able to play. For us to vote. Um, we’ve lost a giant. We’ve really lost a giant, not just a ballplayer giant, but a giant in history. And we owe so much to him," said Fanya Young, a history student at U.C. Berkeley and a fan of Mays.

For the rest of time videos will show Mays’ greatness, and stories will share his impact. But the hearts of those who loved, knew, or followed him will forever be the home of his deepest impact.

"People like him live forever. He’s in our hearts. As long as there’s San Francisco Giants baseball, there’s gonna be a Willie Mays. He’s just too much a part of how we became who we are. That may be the house that Barry built, but it’s on the foundation of Willie Mays," said Szwanek.

Oracle Park will open at 12 p.m. Thursday. People will be allowed inside to take tours and watch the Giants game against the Saint Louis Cardinals that’ll be played at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, AL. The game will be shown on Oracle Park’s center field video board.

Jesse Gary is a news & sports reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on Instagram, @jessegontv and on Facebook, @JesseKTVU