Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Willie McCovey, RIP -- October 31, 2018

The great Giant Willie McCovey has died.  I used to love watching him on television and at Candlestick Park.   McCovey batting fourth allowed Willie Mays to do many of the things that he did batting third. Everyone loved Willie McCovey when I was growing up. Some people liked McCovey more than Willie Mays because McCovey had started out in San Francisco. I loved watching him hit line drives. I loved watching him stretch out to take a throw at first.

I was shattered when he went to the Padres in 1974. I was very happy when he came back in 1977. He earned the Comeback Player of the Year award.

We were at a game at Candlestick in 1980, one of his last, I think, when he reached first base. I don't remember who was hitting behind him, but suddenly McCovey took off for second; it looked as if he was trying to steal the bag. Because of knee problems, it had been a long time since he had stolen a base. The stadium went silent, the catcher threw the ball to second, and he was out. It turned out to be a broken hit and run play.

Willie McCovey is in the Hall of Fame, where he belongs. Despite mobility problems, he spent a lot of time at the ballpark and shared his wisdom with the players. Every year the Giants players and coaches vote to give the Willie Mac Award to a player who embodies Stretch's qualities of leadership and spirit.

I took the photo of Willie McCovey's statue, across China Basin, also known as McCovey Cove, from the ballpark on 21-September-2007.

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