A while back there was a nice thread (http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2010/1/5/1234897/some-historical-perspective) that included a few stories about Willie Mays. I and others realized that we don't seem to talk about Willie much, but I've since realized we really don't talk about Willie McCovey much either. So, at the risk of distracting people from Grant's umpteenth post about prospect 3.1419, I would like to request some stories, memories, or statznerd love for Willie McCovey.
He was mentioned on Prime 9 the other day in their "Best of the 60's" episode, which featured about 5 different people from Robin Roberts to Cepeda marveling at how hard he hit the ball, and Ed Kranepool waxing pretty eloquently on the dangers of standing on the bag when McCovey batted.
I don't have too many memories of Willie Mac as a player. As I have posted before, the first live ballgame I attended was in 1978 as the Giants came to life for the first time in a long time. I had no particular love for them then; as I recall (for reasons I do not remember probably relating to baseball cards) I thought of myself as an Orioles fan at the time and like most in the Sacramento area we watched more A's games until Finley finished dismantling them. Anyway, I enjoyed the game as all kids seem to, and this particular game happened to feature a Giant victory, in extra innings. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN197807220.shtml. For the lazy or bandwidth-challenged, Willie Mac won this game with a single in the bottom of the 10th.
I don't clearly remember much of the game, of course, since it happened 32 years ago. I DO distinctly remember complaints by Giants fans before the game about having a 40-year old cleanup hitter and discussions on the drive down wondering why the Giants were fielding a lineup with such an old cleanup hitter. There were two Candlestick old-timers sitting behind us, and as the lineup was announced they would shout out the names of some historical Giant that they thought should have been batting in his place (so, for example, the announcer would say "batting eighth, at catcher....", and one of these guys would yell "Tom Haller!"). I suppose the McCoven has always existed in some form. But they didn't substitute for McCovey when he was announced, and they yelled the loudest when he drove in the winning run.
So, that's what passes for my personal Willie Mac story, although I certainly stand up and yell every time he's announced or appears on the field now (which given the state of his legs seems to be less and less often). The most often-repeated story is of the last out of the '62 WS, which I think is too bad. Aside from giving San Francisco a world title, that line drive could have given the 24-year old Willie Mac (whose very nickname is overshadowed by another Willie) the immortality that he deserves. Maybe someone should name a blog after him where Giants haters can come to post recipes and fantasy baseball complaints.
In the meantime, take a look at his 1978 card, and consider that his line at age 39 (in 1977, the stats on the back of this card) was .280/.367/.500.
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