Willie Lee McCovey
(Stretch, Mac, or Big Mac)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 4", Weight 210 lb.
- High School Central High School (Mobile)
- Debut July 30, 1959
- Final Game July 6, 1980
- Born January 10, 1938 in Mobile, AL USA
"There's no comparison between McCovey and anybody else in the league." — Sparky Anderson
Willie McCovey was Rookie of the Year in 1959 at age 21 and in 1980 was still playing at age 42. He hit 521 lifetime home runs and was the 1969 MVP with an impressive Adjusted OPS of 211 (# 26 on the all-time single-season list).
McCovey was the same age as Orlando Cepeda and came up one year after him with the San Francisco Giants. Since the two had the same general skill set (both were sluggers who could play first base and sort of play left field), Willie didn't always get playing time. McCovey didn't get over 350 at-bats until his fifth season in the big leagues.
Cepeda, however, was traded in 1966 while McCovey played almost his entire career with the Giants.
McCovey's .270 lifetime average is a bit misleading since he played much of his career in the second dead-ball era when averages were relatively low. He added copious walks, finishing with a .374 lifetime OBP.
He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 8, 1986 by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He played in the major leagues in four different decades. He hit 500th home run on June 30, 1978 off Jamie Easterly of the Atlanta Braves. His first baseball card appearance was in the 1960 Topps set.
In 1995, he was condemned for tax evasion for failure to report revenues from signing autographs and participating in memorabilia shows in previous years. He was sentenced to a fine a probation, but in one of President Barack Obama's final acts in January 2017, he received a full pardon. His was one of 273 pardons and commutations signed by Obama in his last days as President.
"Guys used to kid Drysdale about (McCovey). Willie was the one guy Don was reluctant to face. In the four and a half years I played with Don, I think McCovey is the only player he was afraid of physically." - Don Sutton
- 1959 NL Rookie of the Year Award
- 1959 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
- 6-time NL All-Star: (1963, 1966 & 1968-1971)
- NL MVP (1969)
- 1969 All-Star Game MVP
- 1977 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award
- NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1969)
- 3-time NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1968-1970)
- 3-time NL OPS Leader (1968-1970)
- 3-time NL Home Runs Leader (1963, 1968 & 1969)
- 2-time NL RBI Leader (1968 & 1969)
- NL Bases on Balls Leader (1970)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 12 (1962, 1963, 1965-1970, 1973-1975 & 1977)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 7 (1963 & 1965-1970)
- 40-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1963 & 1969)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (1963 & 1968-1970)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1963 & 1969)
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1986
|Bob Gibson||Willie McCovey||Johnny Bench|
|NL Rookie of the Year|
|Orlando Cepeda||Willie McCovey||Frank Howard|
- Career grand slams in the National League, 18
- Career grand slams as a pinch hitter, 3 (tied)
- Willie McCovey (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, July 1973, pp. 35-37.