Willie Mays, Yogi Berra to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

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It was just announced that Willie Mays and Yogi Berra will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama on November 24. Berra’s will be posthumous, of course.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. According to the White House, the award is given to individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The last baseball winner was Ernie Banks, in 2013.

For a reminder of just how much more Yogi Berra was than the cute, funny legend he somehow became by the end of this life, please read my remembrance of Berra from just after his passing. For Mays’ life and accomplishments, check out this biography over at SABR.

Other recipients this year: Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Stephen Sondheim, Gloria Estefan, James Taylor, Bonnie Carroll, Emilio Estefan, Lee Hamilton, Katherine G. Johnson, Barbara Mikulski, Itzhak Perlman and William Ruckelshaus. Other posthumous recipients will be Shirley Chisholm, Billy Frank Jr. and Minoru Yasui.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.