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Happy 80th birthday, Willie McCovey!

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One of the greatest players ever to play baseball is eight decades old, and it’s a good day to appreciate him some more.

Willie McCovey Hitting a Homerun

It’s Willie McCovey’s 80th birthday today, and I would like you to stop for a moment and consider something: It’s incredibly unique for a living legend to attend almost all of his former team’s games, year after year. Every year, we’re treated with a reminder that, oh, yes, Willie Freaking McCovey is in the ballpark, watching the game because he wants to. Even though his mobility is severely compromised, he still attends games at AT&T Park all the time. Because he wants to.

I love that so much. It’s incredibly special, and it’s far too easy to take for granted. Remember just how cool it is the next time the cameras catch him watching from his box. That’s Willie McCovey, you should think with a sense of awe.

On his 80th birthday, it’s probably appropriate to watch his Hall of Fame induction speech, where he chokes up and reminds the world of how cool he really is:

Something I think about often is his 1977 season, when he returned to the Giants at the age of 39, after a miserable lost season that was split between the A’s and Padres, and played 141 games, hitting .280/.367/.500 with 28 home runs. That was legitimately one of the best stories of the entire decade for the Giants, and it’s a much better ending than him drifting off into the ether in a Padres uniform.

Something else I think about are all the dingers. All of the booming dingers.

Another thing I think about is the literal McCovey chronicle from my youth.

Mostly, though, I think about how spoiled the Giants are to have this kind of history, with players who stayed local and revel in the chance to be involved and around the organization. For all of our whining about specific relievers and the like, it’s still incredibly fun to be a Giants fan, and McCovey is one of the reasons why.

Happy birthday, Stretch. Happy birthday and thanks.