It is important to take some time to wish San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey a happy birthday, even if we are a day late. McCovey turned 79 yesterday and his place in Giants history is literally set in stone.
Not only have the San Francisco Giants built a statue and named the water around the stadium after the legendary Giant, but they have also named the most prestigious award they give to their players after him.
The Willie Mac Award has been presented annually since 1980 to the most inspirational player on the San Francisco Giants.
McCovey’s importance to the team and his legacy was confirmed again when he was hired as a senior advisor with the Giants after he retired from the game. He has been a regular at AT&T Park for as many home games as he can physically attend, as well as a long time fixture at Spring Training along with Willie Mays.
McCovey played 19 seasons for the Giants from 1959-1980 and he was as feared a hitter as any in the game. Nicknamed “Stretch,” McCovey was the greatest first baseman in the history of the franchise.
Hall of Famer Bob Gibson called him the “scariest hitter in baseball” and he held the major league record for intentional walks until Barry Bonds passed him in the record books. Bonds and Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda took to Twitter yesterday to celebrate McCovey’s birthday.
And Super 70’s Sports reminded us once again that their are different levels of cool.
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The Giants have made a commitment to their history, and it has grown over the years, but it began when former managing general partner Peter Magowan decided to bring back Mays and McCovey. Hall of Famers like Cepeda, Gaylord Perry and Monte Irvin as well as longtime Giants like Bonds, J.T. Snow, Will Clark and Jeff Kent have often been brought back to help the Giants in many different ways. Some worked year round with the Giants, while others would help with community events.
Ultimately, the team’s loyalty to their past is why yesterday is such an important date on the calendar in San Francisco. It is always important to celebrate great moments in Giants history, and the birth of one of their greatest players is as important a moment as any.
Be sure to check with Around the Foghorn each day for all the latest San Francisco Giants hot stove news.