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 reining 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.
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 1960’s.
Willie debuted in the MLB on July 30, 1959 at the young age of 21 and he quickly made an impression by going 4 for 4 against Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. He made such an impact on the league he went on to win ROY in 1959 and was even considered for MVP despite only playing in 52 games that season.
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.”
Willie 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, quite but when he spoke you listened. He never bragged about himself nor wanted the spot light, instead he would defer that attention to team mates Willie Mays or Orlando Cepeda. He is truly the most beloved Giant in San Francisco.
He played for a total of 22 years mostly with 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 stats are: Home Runs 521 | Hits 2,211 | RBI’s 1,555 | Runs 1,229
ROOKIE CARD OF HALL OF FAMER WILLIE McCOVEY
1960 Topps, Card No. 316 (shop ebay)
The 1960 Topps set is one of the most beloved sets of the 60’s. 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 and 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 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 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 brown card board stock offers us player name, bio, and stats that only show previous year and career totals throughout set. Commentary gives us the “Seasons Highlights” for Willie’s 1959 season. My two personal favorite portions of this card back is the upper left corner, that vintage Topps baseball with card number inside of it – epic! And the cartoon to the bottom right side of card doesn’t give us general trivia questions or definitions like previous years. Instead its a cartoon that pertains to Willie. Classic vintage nostalgia.
As of the date of this post raw copies can be purchased for $25.00-$100.00 dollars depending on condition of course. Graded mid-grade copies (4-6’s) are selling for $45.00-$143.00; high-end grades (7-8’s) sell in the $390.00-$1,180.00 range. And on June 13, 2018 a PSA Mint 9 sold for $9,855.00 respectively.
Willie McCovey Stats | Baseball-Reference.com https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mccovwi01.shtml (accessed November 2, 2018).
Martinez, Jose. MLB Legend Willie McCovey Dead at 80. Digital Image. Complex.com. October 31, 2018. https://www.complex.com/sports/2018/11/mlb-legend-willie-mccovey-dead-at-80 (accessed November 2, 2018).