R.I.P. Willie McCovey

Willie McCovey has died at the age of 80. The story is here.

McCovey may be the Giant most beloved by the fans since the team moved to San Francisco. He wasn’t the first star the team developed after the move (that would be Orlando Cepeda), but he was the first that San Francisco fans really fell in love with. He continued to be associated with the Giants up to the end. The part of the bay just over the right field wall is named after him (McCovey Cove), and he attended the Giants’ last home game this season.

There are stories that pitchers and infielders feared him, not because he was such a good hitter (although he was), nor because he was a nasty guy (he definitely wasn’t). It’s because he would hit line drives so hard that they were afraid they’d get hurt.

McCovey hit one of those line drives right at Bobby Richardson to end the 1962 World Series. The Giants would probably have won the game and the Series if McCovey’s liner hadn’t been right to Richardson.

I met Willie McCovey while I was working as an Killer Whale trainer at Marineworld in Redwood City. He was very tall, walked with a limping gate and had huge hands. I got to shake his hand. He was soft spoken, polite and a gentle soul. He will be missed.

I saw Willie McCovey and the Giants play at my first pro ball game ~1968. Willie was on base and the other Willie (Mays) hit a grand slam. Great stuff. Will always think of Willie McCovey at a ball game.

May your bat never break, Willie.

My first memories of McCovey were when I was probably ten or eleven, when he had returned to the Giants after playing with San Diego and Oakland for a few years. He was in his late thirties, and was pretty much relegated to pinch hitting duties. My parents always got excited whenever he came up to bat; I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about, because it seemed like he hardly ever got a hit. It was not until a few years later that I got it.

RIP Stretch.

But why couldn’t you have hit the ball just a *little *bit higher?

He was my grandmother’s favorite player of all time. My grandmother who took me to my first Giants game as a child; my grandmother with whom I spent so much time in the kitchen listening to the Giants game on the radio. I truly hope she is talking to him right now.

Rest in piece, Willie.

One remembrance of “Stretch”, from 56 years ago

And another, about two months later