The San Francisco Giants issued the following statement on behalf of Willie McCovey's family and the organization:It is with great sadness that we announce that San Francisco Giants Legend and Hall of Famer Willie McCovey passed away peacefully this afternoon at the age of 80 after losing his battle with
The San Francisco Giants issued the following statement on behalf of Willie McCovey's family and the organization:
It is with great sadness that we announce that San Francisco Giants Legend and Hall of Famer Willie McCovey passed away peacefully this afternoon at the age of 80 after losing his battle with ongoing health issues.
"San Francisco and the entire baseball community lost a true gentleman and legend, and our collective hearts are broken," said Giants President & Chief Executive Officer Laurence M. 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."
Willie's greatest passion was his family and our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife, Estela, and his daughter, Allison, and her children Raven, Philip, and Marissa," continued Baer.
"I am grateful that my father passed peacefully surrounded by his family and friends while listening to his favorite sports channel," said Willie's daughter Allison McCovey.
"Every moment he will be terribly missed. He was my best friend and husband. Living life without him will never be the same," said Willie's wife Estela McCovey
Willie is also survived by his sister Frances and his brothers, Clauzell and Cleon.
A public celebration of Willie's life will be announced at a later date. Fans who wish to offer their condolences may send letters to the McCovey family care of San Francisco Giants, attention Forever 44, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107. Or they may email Forever44@sfgiants.com.
Since 1980, the Giants have awarded the Willie Mac Award, which is given to a Giants player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership consistently shown by McCovey throughout his career.
McCovey was a six-time All-Star, a National League MVP (1969) and National League Rookie of the Year (1959) winner. He was a three-time NL home run leader (1963, 1968, 1969) and twice led the league in RBI (1968, 1969). At the time of his retirement he ranked second to Lou Gehrig in career grand slams (18) and hit the most homers (231) ever at Candlestick Park. "Stretch" also established a Major League record for most seasons played (22) as a first baseman. In addition, he became the fifth player in MLB history to earn back-to-back home run and RBI titles, hitting 36 homers and driving in 105 runs in 1968 and then capturing NL Most Valuable Player honors with 45 home runs and 126 RBI in 1969. McCovey had hit more home runs (521) than any other left-handed hitter in National League history before Barry Bonds passed him in 2001. His 521 career home runs are tied with Frank Thomas and Ted Williams for 20th on baseball's all-time list.
McCovey made his Major League debut with the Giants on July 30, 1959, and went 4-for-4 against Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts of the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting two triples and two singles. He then went on to win National League Rookie of the Year honors while posting a .354 batting average with 13 home runs and 38 RBI in just 52 games for the Giants. The Mobile, Alabama native spent many years at the heart of the Giants' batting order along with fellow Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays. His best year statistically was 1969, when he batted .320 with 45 home runs and 126 RBI en route to being named the National League Most Valuable Player.
After four decades in baseball, McCovey retired following the 1980 season after a 22-year big league career (18 with the Giants). He ended his playing career with a batting average of .270 along with 1,229 runs scored, 353 doubles, 46 triples, 521 home runs and 1,555 RBI for the Giants (1959-1973, 1977-80), San Diego Padres (1974-76) and Oakland Athletics (1976). He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986 in his first year of eligibility, appearing on 346 of 425 ballots cast.
In honor of the Hall of Fame great, the portion of San Francisco Bay behind right field at AT&T Park is named "McCovey Cove." In 2003, the Giants unveiled a statue of McCovey at China Basin Park, which is located across from AT&T Park on the southern shoreline of McCovey Cove.
McCovey had spent the past 18 years as a senior advisor to the team.