“McCovey is off the table!”
That’s how Red felt about Willie McCovey as a young man. McCovey passed away this week at the age of 80.
At age 21, McCovey made his Major League Baseball debut with the San Francisco Giants by going 4 for 4 with two RBIs on July 30, 1959 and went on to win the Rookie of the Year award despite playing only one half of the season. McCovey finished his Hall of Fame career (inducted on the first ballot in 1986) with 2211 hits, 521 homeruns, 1555 RBIs and a career .270 batting average. McCovey is honored by the Giants franchise with the unofficially named McCovey Cove behind the right field wall of AT&T Park. 78 Giants and 47 players from other MLB clubs have hit home runs out of the park into McCovey’s cove – one of the few places in MLB parks that a player can hit one out of the stadium. His 18 career grand slams are a MLB record.
McCovey’s best season was in 1969 when he had a career high in hits (157), Homeruns (45), RBI’s(126), OBS (.453), SLG (.656), and OPS (1.108) and was the NL MVP. McCovey appeared in six all-star games (winning the AS MVP award in 1969). McCovey played for 22 years until 1980 and stayed with the Giants organization for another 18 seasons.
Red was lucky enough to see McCovey play once at the Astrodome in Houston in the first MLB game he ever attended. Red also doesn’t recall anyone ever saying a bad word about this man.