Willie McCovey Rookie Card
Willie McCovey had a friend whose brother knew a guy, that was a baseball scout for the New York Giants. In 1954, this friend of a friend invited Willie to a tryout. Wille debuted in the MLB on July 30, 1959, against the Phillies and went 4 for 4! He has one official rookie card.
Before Barry There Was Willie
Today, when you think of the San Francisco Giants one can quickly refer to Barry Bonds. I mean who can blame you, he won the MVP four times in a row and is the current reigning home run king.
But before Barry there was Willie and I’m not speaking of Willie Mays, another Giants great, I’m speaking of Willie McCovey who died recently and caused baseball fans everywhere to remember his legacy.
The Humble Demeanor of Willie McCovey
Nicknamed, “Stretch” for his 6′ 4″ frame he was an intimidating presence at the plate. Known best for hitting the ball harder and further than anyone else in his era, he was a solidified home-run hitter all throughout the 1960s.
He will be remembered most by those who knew him best, not for his accomplishments in the world of baseball instead he will be remembered and loved for his genuine demeanor.
He was a gentle giant, quiet but when he spoke you listened, he never bragged about himself nor wanted the spotlight, instead, he would defer that attention to teammates Willie Mays or Orlando Cepeda. Willie is truly the most beloved Giant in San Francisco.
Willie made an immediate impact in the league and went on to win ROY in 1959 and was even considered for MVP despite only playing in 52 games that season. Amazing!
Hall of Famer and Cincinnatti Reds catcher Johnny Bench interviewed on the Dan Patrick Show not long after his death said this about Willie,
“As a catcher I had no pitch nor pitcher that could get him out. Nobody was a tougher out than Willie McCovey.”
Career Stats & Accomplishments
1969 was his best year as he dominated the league hitting 45 Home Runs, 126 RBI’s, with a .320 Batting Average, and a blistering .453 On Base Percentage!
He played for a total of 22 years mostly with the Giants but had a stint with the Padres and only 11 games with the Oakland A’s before being traded back to the Giants where he won come back player of the year in 1977 by hitting 28 home runs and 86 RBI’s at age 39.
McCovey’s career summary – Home Runs 521 | Hits 2,211 | RBI’s 1,555 | Runs 1,229
Willie was the 1959 Rookie of the Year, 1969 NL MVP, 1969 All-Star MVP, and 1969 MLB Player of the Year.
Beyond the right-field wall of Oracle Park in San Francisco is a section called by the locals, McCovey Cove. At the mouth of the cove, there is a statue of Willie McCovey.
The name was coined by two sportswriters. Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News wrote an article suggesting naming the body of water after McCovey, though his original suggestions were ‘McCovey Channel,’ ‘McCovey Stream’ or ‘McCovey Run.’
Purdy then noted the more ‘lyrical’ name of ‘McCovey Cove’ was suggested by his colleague Leonard Koppett, a writer for the Oakland Tribune.
The name did not take long to become very popular, although the nickname has never become official.
On game days, fans take to the water of McCovey Cove in boats and even in kayaks, often with fishing nets in the hopes of collecting a home run ball.
Rookie Card of Hall of Famer
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The 1960 Topps Set
The 1960 Topps set is one of the most beloved sets of the ’60s. Collectors young and old have really taken a liking to this set because of its beautiful design.
The set is well-balanced and has plenty of “themed” card runs also known as subsets. The entire 572 card set is in a horizontal position which makes it unique for that reason alone.
Cards 316-325 feature the subset “Topps All-Star Rookie” and it showcases players chosen by the Youth of America.
The Cards Features
The first card in this subset is that of Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. Two-thirds of card front features a batting pose of the young Stretch. To the right side is the ever-popular Topps rookie trophy.
Over the years collectors have really taken a liking to this trophy cup because of the nostalgic factor it has given collectors.
The back of the card matches the rest of the set. Vintage gray cardboard stock offers us the player name, player bio, and stats that only show the previous year and career totals throughout the set.
Commentary gives us the “Seasons Highlights” for Willie’s 1959 season. My two personal favorite portions of this card back in the upper left corner, that vintage Topps baseball with card number inside of it – epic!
The cartoon to the bottom right side of the card back doesn’t give us general trivia questions or definitions like previous years. Instead, it’s a cartoon that pertains to Willie. Classic vintage nostalgia.
A Set Within the Set
Any Topps set in the 1960s offered collectors subsets. The card pictured above comes from a subset called Sports Magazine ’60 All-Star Selection inside the 1960 Topps set. Which would be similar to Sports Illustrated choosing 20 players today.
Oddly enough this subset offers the second card of our featured Hall of Famer Willie McCovey inside the 1960 Topps checklist. So is this a rookie card of Willie too? You can consider it whatever you’d like.
However, only the first card of the player, within the set, is considered the true RC. This can be viewed as a Rookie Year card and carries some weight within the hobby but not as much as card #316.
All-Star Subset Features
The All-Star subset cards were featured within the last 20 cards of the set, cards 553-572. They were featured in Series 7 of the 1960 Topps packs. Yeah, you read it correctly, 1960 Topps was released in 7 Series.
The card front offers a fantastic design with a bright portrait photo, which includes the shadow of Willie and a huge 60 as a backdrop. The red informative text boxes at the top and bottom bring bold colors to the design.
The back of the card is impressive to me, gray card stock with black and orange ink has a lot of eye appeal. The large cartoon drawing is epic! Commentary gives us the reasons why he was chosen to be on this list.
The Cards Value
This second card of Willie McCovey is an affordable option for any collector. They can be had for about 50% of the cost of card #316, his true RC. So that’s not too bad for this fantastic looking card.
By clicking here. You can check out the rookie cards of another popular San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds!
Happy Collecting Collectors,
Learn. Collect. Enjoy.
Willie McCovey Stats | Baseball-Reference.com https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mccovwi01.shtml (accessed November 2, 2018).
Wikipedia contributors, “McCovey Cove,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=McCovey_Cove&oldid=955467333 (accessed July 19, 2020).