MLB Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey, one of the most decorated players in the history of the San Francisco Giants, passed away peacefully on Wednesday at the age of 80 after a long series of health issues.
The 1959 National League Rookie of the Year, 1969 NL MVP and a six-time All-Star, McCovey spent 18 of his 22 seasons with the Giants and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot in 1986. He finished his career with 521 home runs, which was more than any other left-handed batter in National League history until he was surpassed by Barry Bonds in 2001. He still ranks 20th on the all-time home run list, tied with Frank Thomas and Ted Williams, and to this day, only seven left-handed batters, including Bonds, have hit more homers than him.
A native of Mobile, Alabama, McCovey spent his entire MLB career in California, spending nearly four seasons with the San Diego Padres and appearing in 11 games with the Oakland Athletics in 1976. Over the course of his career, he drew 1,345 walks and struck out 1,550 times, posting an on-base percentage of .374 and an OPS of .889, breaking the 1.000 mark in OPS three times: his Rookie of the Year season, his MVP season and again in 1970.
He reached the postseason twice, hitting the line drive that was caught by New York Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson to end the 1962 World Series with the winning run on second base. He homered in Game 2 of that series, a 2-0 Giants victory. In 1971, though the Giants were defeated in the NL Championship Series by the Pittsburgh Pirates, he went 6-for-14 with four walks and two homers.
“San Francisco and the entire baseball community lost a true gentleman and legend, and our collective hearts are broken,” said Giants president and CEO Larry Baer. “Willie was a beloved figure throughout his playing days and in retirement. He will be deeply missed by the many people he touched. For more than six decades, he gave his heart and soul to the Giants – as one of the greatest players of all time, as a quiet leader in the clubhouse, as a mentor to the Giants who followed in his footsteps, as an inspiration to our Junior Giants, and as a fan cheering on the team from his booth.”
He married his second wife, Estela, August 1 of this year at AT&T Park after a longtime relationship. Additionally, he is survived by his daughter, Allison, as well as three grandchildren.
A public celebration of McCovey’s life will be announced at a later date.