Willie McCovey, the sweet-swinging Hall of Famer nicknamed ‘Stretch’ for his 6-foot-4 height and those long arms, died Wednesday. He was 80.
The San Francisco Giants announced McCovey’s death, saying the fearsome hitter passed ‘peacefully’ in the afternoon ‘after losing his battle with ongoing health issues.’
A former first baseman and left fielder, McCovey was a career .270 hitter with 521 home runs and 1,555 RBIs in 22 major league seasons, 19 of them with the Giants. He also played for the Athletics and Padres.
McCovey made his major league debut at age 21 on July 30, 1959 and played alongside the other Willie – Hall of Famer Willie Mays – into the 1972 season before Mays was traded to the New York Mets that May.
McCovey batted .354 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs on the way to winning 1959 NL Rookie of the Year. The six-time All-Star also won the 1969 NL MVP and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986 after his first time on the ballot.
‘You knew right away he wasn’t an ordinary ballplayer,’ Hall of Famer Hank Aaron said, courtesy of the Hall of Fame. ‘He was so strong, and he had the gift of knowing the strike zone. There’s no telling how many home runs he would have hit if those knees weren’t bothering him all the time and if he played in a park other than Candlestick.’
McCovey had been getting around in a wheelchair in recent years because he could no longer rely on his once-dependable legs, yet was still regularly seen at the ballpark in his private suite. McCovey had attended games at AT&T Park as recently as the final game of the season.
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Source: Daily Mail