Bioography:

One name has recently been spoken again by the baseball reporters, well, his last name anyway. McCovey's Cove has become the aquatic home to many of the home runs hit by slugger Barry Bonds in recent years. Born on January 10, 1938, this guy is officially older than Sportscenter, but he held stellar years alongside fellow Giant Willie Mays in the 1960's and 70's before being traded to the San Diego Padres. McCovey put in three seasons as a Padre before being bought by the Oakland Athletics at the end of the 1976 season. McCovey entered a large free agency draft held at the end of the season, with such players as Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers, and Don Baylor available to teams. McCovey was not signed by any team, but would join the Giants in spring training and proceed to have a standout year. McCovey played three more seasons with the Giants before retiring on June 6, 1980.

Willie McCovey was born on January 10, 1938 in Mobile, Alabama. He was first noticed in 1957 in the Pacific Coast League where he hit 29 home runs in Phoenix before being picked up by the San Francisco Giants. Stretch made his debut in Candlestick Park with a bang. He went 4-4 and hit two triples off of future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. Only three other players debuted with 2 triples, but none having the perfect hitting record McCovey did. McCovey went on to win the Rookie of the Year award for 1959 unanimously, hitting .352 with 13 home runs in just under 200 at bats.

McCovey's smooth swing was combined with Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda into a trio that would constantly stifle opposing pitchers. However, before the three could fully click, McCovey spent some time on the bench, coming in and pinch hitting when necessary. On June 12, 1960, McCovey hit his first grand slam in a 16-7 rout over the Atlanta Braves. The game tied a then record length for a 9-inning game of 3 hours and 52 minutes. While McCovey showed promise early in the season, he faltered in the second half. He was sent down to Tacoma's team in the PCL on July 17, 1960 to make like stella and get his groove back. This was two days after he hit an "invisible" triple against the newly uprooted Los Angeles Dodgers. McCovey hit the pitch into shallow left field, but no one could find the ball because of fog. McCovey ended with a triple and the home umpire called time for 24 minutes until the fog could lift.

McCovey started the 1961 season with the Giants, and played in about 2/3rds of the games in their season. He would do the same in the 1962 season, but the Giants would go farther then the previous year. In the postseason the Giants rocked the National League, earning their way to the World Series against the New York Yankees. To the sadness of many, the Yankees edged out the Giants in the series that year. To the sadness of Willie McCovey, he was the last out with the tying run on second and the winning run on first. The Giants would not return to the World Series for forty years.

In the seasons following, McCovey, Mays and Cepeda settled down and held the Giants as a respectable team, but they would not make the playoffs In 1967, the Giants traded Orlando Cepeda to the St. Louis Cardinals in what many considered a crazy move. Cepeda went house as a Cardinal and helped them stomp the Giants. The Cards won the division by 10 1/2 games even though Willie Mays had another All-Star season and Willie McCovey hit 30+ home runs for the 3rd season in a row.

McCovey would continue to improve in the following years. He continued his powerful swing and in 1969 hit 45 home runs. While this was McCovey's second and final 40+ home run season, he would retire with a total of 521 homers. He was named MVP of the National League that year, edging out Tom Seaver. McCovey also continued his trend of injuries. He was off and on in his first few seasons with hamstring trouble. On April 18, 1972 he was knocked out of commission when he broke his arm in a crash with San Diego Padres catcher John Jeter. McCovey returned two months later.

While McCovey might have just gotten off of the disabled list, San Francisco decided to make another interesting trade. This time they traded Willie McCovey along with a minor leaguer to the San Diego Padres for pitcher Mike Caldwell. McCovey was in a Padre uniform for three years. He no longer was hitting the numbers he used to while he was a Giant. At the end of the 1976 season, the Oakland Athletics were making a move towards the playoffs, and were looking for talent that might be helpful. They purchased McCovey from the Padres, hoping to add his power at the plate to their effort. Willie McCovey played in a total of 11 games for the A's, making a total of 28 plate appearances.

However, at the end of that season, Stretch was jobless. He took part in a Free Agent draft that occurred on November 4, 1976. It was held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Willie McCovey and Nate Colbert would be the only two players walking away without a team. McCovey spent the rest of the winter unemployed. When the spring came around, he showed up at the Giants' spring training activities, wondering if he could get a tryout. McCovey played four more seasons with the team that he started out on. On June 30, 1978 McCovey joined the ranks of 11 other sluggers who hit over 500 home runs. McCovey finished his career with 521 home runs, tying him with the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams on the all time list. On June 6, Willie McCovey announced his retirement from the game of baseball.

Six years down the road, Willie McCovey, alongside Bobby Doerr and Ernie Lombardi were inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. McCovey finished his career third on the all time grand slam list with 18, putting him behind Lou Gehrig(23) and Eddie Murray(19). McCovey, along with Andre Dawson, are the only players who hit a pair of home runs in the same inning, twice. Currently, McCovey and Cepeda are still teammates in the offices of the San Francisco Giants. Both were also involved in Vida Blue's wedding to Peggy Shannon on July 24, 1990. The festivities occurred on the pitcher's mound in Candlestick Park, and the betrothed came out in a horse-drawn carriage on fan appreciation day. McCovey was the best man.

Awards

- 1959: National League Rookie of the Year
- 1969: All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
- 1969: National League Most Valuable Player
- 6 time all-star

Statistics:

Positions: First Base / Outfield
Number: 44
Bats: left
Throws: left
Height 6' 4"
Weight 210 lb.


       TEAM   G  AB  H  2B 3B HR  R  RBI  BB IBB  SO SH SF HBP AVG OBP SLG 
1959 Giants  52 192  68  9  5 13  32  38  22   1  35  0  1  4 .354 .429 .656 
1960 Giants 101 260  62 15  3 13  37  51  45   4  53  0  2  0 .238 .349 .469 
1961 Giants 106 328  89 12  3 18  59  50  37   3  60  0  4  5 .271 .350 .491 
1962 Giants  91 229  67  6  1 20  41  54  29   1  35  0  3  0 .293 .368 .590 
1963 Giants 152 564 158 19  5 44 103 102  50   5 119  1  1 11 .280 .350 .566 
1964 Giants 130 364  80 14  1 18  55  54  61   5  73  0  4  5 .220 .336 .412 
1965 Giants 160 540 149 17  4 39  93  92  88   5 118  2  3  6 .276 .381 .539 
1966 Giants 150 502 148 26  6 36  85  96  76  10 100  0  4  6 .295 .391 .586 
1967 Giants 135 456 126 17  4 31  73  91  71  17 110  2  4  6 .276 .378 .535 
1968 Giants 148 523 153 16  4 36  81 105  72  20  71  0  8  5 .293 .378 .545 
1969 Giants 149 491 157 26  2 45 101 126 121  45  66  0  7  4 .320 .453 .656 
1970 Giants 152 495 143 39  2 39  98 126 137  40  75  0  3  3 .289 .444 .612 
1971 Giants 105 329  91 13  0 18  45  70  64  21  57  0  5  4 .277 .396 .480 
1972 Giants  81 263  56  8  0 14  30  35  38   5  45  0  1  2 .213 .316 .403 
1973 Giants 130 383 102 14  3 29  52  75 105  25  78  0  6  1 .266 .420 .546 
1974 Padres 128 344  87 19  1 22  53  63  96   9  76  0  1  1 .253 .416 .506 
1975 Padres 122 413 104 17  0 23  43  68  57   8  80  0  2  3 .252 .345 .460 
1976 Padres  71 202  41  9  0  7  20  36  21   7  39  0  0  1 .203 .281 .351 
1976 A's     11  24   5  0  0  0   0   0   3   1   4  0  0  0 .208 .296 .208 
1977 Giants 141 478 134 21  0 28  54  86  67  16 106  0  3  0 .280 .367 .500 
1978 Giants 108 351  80 19  2 12  32  64  36   8  57  0  2  0 .228 .298 .396 
1979 Giants 117 353  88  9  0 15  34  57  36   2  70  0  3  1 .249 .318 .402 
1980 Giants  48 113  23  8  0  1   8  16  13   2  23  0  3  1 .204 .285 .301 

Career Totals:
  G     AB     H   2B 3B  HR    R    RBI   BB  IBB   SO  SH SF HBP  AVG  OBP  SLG 
2,588 8,197 2,211 353 46 521 1,229 1,555 1,345 260 1,550  5 70  69 .270 .374 .515 

Sources:
www.baseballhalloffame.org/hofers_and_honorees/hofer_bios/mccovey_willie.htm
www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=mccovwi01
www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/M/McCovey_Willie.stm
www.thebaseballpage.com/past/pp/mccoveywillie/default.htm
sports.espn.go.com/mlb/alltime/playercard?type=0&playerId=8929
www.geocities.com/dreamhitters/id61.htm
www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/hallfame/00hall6.htm
sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/sf/history/sf_history_timeline.jsp

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