House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s effort to honor Willie Mays on his birthday turned into a swing and a miss when the California Democrat tweeted a photo of the wrong ballplayer.
Instead of Mr. Mays, who turned 90 on Thursday, Ms. Pelosi posted a photo of herself posing in 2018 with Willie McCovey, then switched it out with a photo of Mr. Mays after being called out on social media, blaming a staffer for the error.
“A staffer inadvertently selected the wrong photo for the tweet,” Ms. Pelosi’s office told KCBS AM/FM in a statement. “The photo we wanted to use was of the Speaker and Willie Mays at Willie McCovey’s August 2018 wedding. The quickly deleted photo was the wrong photo from the right wedding. We apologize for the error.”
The apology failed to stop the social-media peanut gallery from booing Ms. Pelosi, a longtime San Francisco resident.
Critics pointed out that both Mr. Mays and Mr. McCovey played the bulk of their Baseball Hall of Fame careers with the San Francisco Giants, arguing that any Bay Area baseball fan should have been able to tell them apart.
“Anyone who knows what Willie Mays looks like knows that’s not him with Pelosi. I spent a lot of time playing baseball as a kid with my brothers, and Willie Mays was one of my heroes growing up. He really is a hero to lots of Americans and is incredibly well known. Except not to Nancy Pelosi, apparently,” said RedState’s Nick Arama.
“Worse yet, of course, Mays played most of his years for the San Francisco Giants, the town that Pelosi claims to represent,” he said. “So, she should know better.”
Indeed, the photos show little physical resemblance between Mr. Mays and Mr. McCovey, who died in 2018, except that both are older and Black, as critics were quick to note.
“Nancy Pelosi shares photo of wrong black baseball player in attempt to honor Willie Mays,” tweeted Human Events managing editor Ian Miles Cheong.
Said former Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer: “Madam Speaker, that’s not Willie Mays.” Snopes rated the claim “true.”
In her birthday message, Ms. Pelosi said, “Happy 90th Birthday to an all-American icon, Willie Mays.”
“A trailblazing, record-breaking baseball player, civil rights leader and champion for youth sports and well-being, Willie Mays is a civic legend and national treasure,” she tweeted.