Willie McCovey

Willie Lee McCovey
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1986
Primary team: San Francisco Giants
Primary position: 1st Baseman

“Here’s a guy who is the most feared in baseball, but everyone pitches around him. If you let him bat 600 times and pitched to him instead of around him, he’d hit 80 home runs.” – Sparky Anderson

Willie McCovey burst on the scene in 1959, winning National League Rookie of the Year honors despite playing in just 52 games. By the time he retired in 1980, McCovey was a San Francisco legend.

“He could hit a ball farther than anyone I ever played with,” said teammate Willie Mays.

In 1963, McCovey won the first of three NL home run crowns, knocking 44 – the number he wore on his jersey – over the fence. He would belt 521 long balls for his career, and chalk up 18 grand slams, at the time of his retirement second only to Lou Gehrig’s 23.

By the late 1960s, McCovey was one of the premier power hitters in the NL, leading the league in homers and RBI in 1968 and ’69 and in slugging percentage from 1968-70. He was the NL MVP in 1969.

He spent three-and-a-half-seasons with the Padres and had a short stint with Oakland before returning to the Giants from 1977-80. A six-time All-Star who led the league in intentional walks four times, McCovey quietly played most of his career with knee, hip and foot injuries.

McCovey's most famous postseason moment came In 1962, when the Giants faced the Yankees in a thrilling seven-game World Series. With the Giants trailing 1-0 in Game 7, McCovey was at bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and runners on second and third. McCovey scorched what looked like a Series-winning hit to right field, but Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson caught the ball to end the series. In his only other postseason appearance, McCovey hit .429 with two home runs in the 1971 NLCS vs. the Pirates.

McCovey finished his career with a .270 batting average, 1,555 RBI and a .515 slugging percentage. His 45 intentional walks in 1969 set a new record that stood for more than 30 years.

McCovey was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986. He passed away on Oct. 31, 2018.

"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

Career stats

Year Inducted: 1986
Primary Team: San Francisco Giants
Position Played: 1st Baseman
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Birth place: Mobile, Alabama
Birth year: 1938
Died: 2018, Stanford, California
Played for:
San Francisco Giants (1959-1973)
San Diego Padres (1974-1976)
Oakland Athletics (1976)
San Francisco Giants (1977-1980)
At BatsAB
Home RunsHR
Stolen BasesSB
Batting AverageBA
On Base %OBP
Slugging %SLG