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As With His Many Prodigious Home Runs, “Stretch,” (The Great Player, Willie McCovey) Is Gone

November 2, 2018

Willie McCovey, one of baseball’s greatest sluggers, part of a contingent of greats that made the National League transcendent for a long period of time, died this week, at the age of 80.

The memories flow, the fans at Candlestick Park running behind the fence to possibly catch a McCovey home run, his 521 home runs, Gil Hodges, then the Mets’ manager playing four outfielders vs him and his home run into the swimming pool at Jarry Park in Montreal.

Those are among the many great McCovey moments.

One not so great emotionally, but no matter dramatic and McCovey did hit the ball hard (ask Bobby Richardson, who caught it, giving the Yankees an incredible half of the 40 World Series wins garnered (James, anyone?) by major league teams from (1923-1962), was when Willie, after hitting a long foul ball, lined to Richardson, ending the 1962 World Series.

Paraphrasing and virtually quoting the superb announcer and player, George Kell, “had that ball gone over (Richardson’s) his head, it WOULD HAVE been the Giants, but now it is the Yankees.”

Charles Schultz, the famed cartoonist, lamented the deprived distance and title thrice in a Charlie Brown/Peanuts cartoon (see below).

Alas, it is above where Willie McCovey is headed, perhaps to see his liner go over Bobby’s head, while Bobby now and when his time comes, will have always caught it!

Go easy, “Stretch.”

 

One season, (1963–another fantastic home run hitter, Harmon Killebrew led the majors in home runs from (1962-1964), Willie and the immortal Henry Aaron tied for the National League lead in home runs with 44, a number each wore on their uniform.

An indelible memory is that of Ralph Kiner, another great home run hitter, on a New York Mets’ broadcast saying they should change their uniform numbers to 54.

 

 

 

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