It has been reported by the San Francisco Giants that Hall of Famer Willie McCovey has died at the age of 80. Per MLB Trade Rumors, the Giants issued a statement that the legendary slugger lost his battle with “ongoing health issues.”
McCovey will always be remembered as a Giant, as he spent 19 of his 22 seasons with the team. Heck, the existence of McCovey Cove alone ensures his name will be spoken by Giants fans for years to come. He played with the Giants from 1959-73 and again from 1977-80. He also spent time with the San Diego Padres (1974-6) and Oakland Athletics (1976), but with all due respect to those teams, a picture of McCovey in anything but a Giants uniform is just wrong somehow.
McCovey earned Rookie of the Year honors in ’59 even though he played in just 52 games. In that brief time, he hit .354 with 13 homers, 38 RBIs and a 1.085 OPS. Heck, he even picked up down-ballot MVP votes for that performance. In his time with the Giants, McCovey led the NL in homers 3 times, RBIs twice, walks once and slugging percentage three times. He also led the NL in intentional walks 4 times, including 45 in 1965. He was named NL MVP in 1969 when he hit .320 with 45 home runs and 126 RBIs. He missed out on a triple crown by finishing 5th in batting average.
McCovey was named to 6 All-Star teams and was the MVP of the 1969 game when he homered off of Blue Moon Odom and Denny McClain in a 9-3 NL win. His 521 home runs are 20th all-time, to go with his 2,211 hits, 1,555 RBIs, .270/.374/.515 slash line and 64.5 WAR, per Baseball Reference. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
Giants CEO Larry Baer issued a statement that read in part, “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.”