Willie McCovey 1963 #490
by William Szczepanek
This 1963 card of Willie McCovey was produced in the year he led the league in home runs with 44, the same number he wore on his jersey his entire career. It was the first year in which McCovey was a regular. McCovey played for 22 years predominantly with the San Francisco Giants between 1959 and 1980. A 6-time All Star McCovey was the MVP in 1969 when he hit 45 home runs and 126 RBIs while batting .320.
In 1959 McCovey won the Rookie of the Year award hitting .354. In his Major League debut on July 30, 1959 McCovey went 4-for-4, with two triples off of Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts. The Giant first baseman would hit 13 home runs in just 52 games. In his career McCovey batted .270, with 521 home runs and 1,555 RBIs, and a .515 slugging percentage.
In the 1962 World Series against the Yankees in game seven, the Giants had conceded a run by taking a double play in the fifth. The 1-0 lead held up into the bottom of the ninth. Matty Alou bunted for a single. With 2 outs Willie Mays doubled to right bringing up McCovey. A single would win the series for the Giants. McCovey hit a ball as hard as he probably ever had, but Bobby Richardson caught the rocket at 2nd base and the Yankees won the World Series.
In 1977 McCovey became the first player to hit 2 home runs in an inning twice in a career. Since then the record has been tied by Andre Dawson. At 6' 4" McCovey looked like a man among boys. Stretch, with his long reach and a bat that looked like a redwood tree had one of the most powerful swings I have ever witnessed.
McCovey Cove outside of AT&T park is aptly named, for if McCovey had played there it would have been the landing spot for many of his drives.
"If you pitch to him, he'll ruin baseball. He'd hit 80 home runs. There's no comparison between McCovey and anybody else in the league." ─ Sparky Anderson
McCovey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986 in his first year of eligibility.
You can check out McCovey's statistics at Baseball Reference.com.