By Solomon Crenshaw Jr.
A humble Don Logan was praised last week during a Regions Field ceremony unveiling a statue of Willie Mays that was dedicated to Logan, the 2015 Legacy of Leadership honoree of the Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.
The former Time Inc. CEO and current Birmingham Barons owner is the 17th honoree. He joins a list that includes John M. Harbert III, Joseph S. Bruno, Robert Hugh Daniel, Hall W. Thompson, Charles Linn and Fred Sington.
“It feels like they made a mistake and put somebody on who probably didn’t belong,” Logan said prior to the ceremony on the Serra Kia plaza at the main gate. “Other than that, I’m very happy to be included in that group. It’s a real honor and I am pleased that we were able to do something for the ballpark that is going to mean so much to the people of Birmingham.”
Logan opted to commission a statue not of himself but Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays, a native of Westfield, AL. This is the first time in the history of the Legacy campaign that the honoree has opted to immortalize someone else in art.
Logan said he chose Mays because he is an iconic figure in baseball and his links to the Birmingham Black Barons. He called the former outfielder one of the greatest players of all time.
“It’s going to be great to come out to the ballpark every day and be able to share a game with Willie,” he said.
Barons patrons will see another tribute to Mays as they arrive at Regions Field. First Avenue South from 14th Street to 16th Street was dedicated to the baseball great.
Mays was invited to be part of the festivities, but commitments to the San Francisco Giants, for whom he played in the Major Leagues, kept him from attending. But he left a lasting impression even in his absence, providing baseball equipment for the Titusville Youth Sports Association.
O’Connor said he played baseball growing up in Hawaii and was excited by the chance to sculpt Mays. He chose to depict Mays making a leaping catch in the outfield, a contrast to other statues of the player at the plate.
“I really wanted to capture something that showed his versatility,” he said. “He was a really great hitter but he was an even more amazing fielder.”