The Giants will say goodbye to Willie McCovey for the first time this Thursday afternoon. Here’s their announcement:
Public Celebration of Life for Hall of Famer Willie McCovey— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) November 3, 2018
▪️ Thursday, November 8th
▪️ 11:30am at @ATTPark
▪️ Open to all fans, please enter through Willie Mays Plaza Gates
▪️ Public transportation encouraged, Lot A not available for public parking #Forever44 | #SFGiants pic.twitter.com/8vi27GJdo5
It will almost certainly not be the last time the team celebrates the life of a franchise icon, but as it will be the first time since his passing, it will be the most important. It will be our first chance to say goodbye, but it will also be our first opportunity to recall to mind and embrace one last time all the joy he brought into our lives and baseball history he created. Subsequent celebrations will be as much a remembrance of his passing.
The team has done the right thing by not considering this a memorial or tribute. Celebrations are about the life that was lived; memorials are for the life that was lost. This is the time to commiserate with Giants fans and McCovey’s loved ones while the shock and sadness of the moment still lingers. It’s the first salve on the wound. Grief is a process and the best version of it involves acknowledging the good with bad. We won’t see him at AT&T Park anymore. He won’t be there to hand out the Willie Mac Award. The Junior Giants have lost their figurehead. The team has lost a legend. But we haven’t lost the history.
Famously, fans gave McCovey a seven-minute ovation upon his return to San Francisco in 1977. He’d go on to win Comeback Player of the Year that season at the age of 39, which led him to say:
“I’d like to think that when people think of San Francisco,” he said, “they also think of Willie McCovey. It’s where I want to be, where I belong. I hope the people there love me a little in return.”
This Thursday will be exceptional. There will be speeches, tears, and cheers. Maybe some highlights you’d forgotten or some you’ve never seen before. Video of Willie in his own words. Mays, Bonds, and maybe even Cepeda will be there. It will be a love fest and rightfully so.
Your attendance isn’t mandatory, but the event is worth your valuable time. If you’re considering it, then I say go for it. If you have kids who are Giants fans, this feels like a situation where a half-day or absence is warranted. This will be an historic occasion involving one of history’s greatest players, a true Giant.