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Willie McCovey, San Francisco Giant's legend, dies at 80

Willie McCovey, Hall of Fame's first basseman who played 19 of his 22 seasons with the San Francisco Giants and…

Willie McCovey, Hall of Fame’s first basseman who played 19 of his 22 seasons with the San Francisco Giants and slugged 521 career home runs, but Wednesday at the age of 80.

Giants said McCovey died due to ongoing health issues

Nicknamed “Stretch” because of his 6-foot-4-frame, McCovey made Willie Mays to create a formidable 1-2 punch in the Giants Lineup for the 13 seasons the two played together.

McCovey retired in 1980 with the most homeless ever of a left-handed in the National League, a badge that stood until 2001 when Barry Bonds, another giant, broke it. He finished his career with 18 grand slams (second only to Lou Gehrig at the time) and led the league at home rally three times and RBI twice. He was a six-hour All-Star who completed his career with a .270 batting agent, 521

home runners and 1,555 RBI.

McCovey made his major league debut in 1959 and went 4 in 4 in his first game. He beat .354, with 13 home runs and 38 RBI in 52 matches as season and named the rookie of the year.

One of McCovey’s best seasons came in 1969 when he won MVP honors. That year he led the league in home runs (45), RBIs (126) and base percentages (.453).

McCovey was traded by the giants to San Diego Padres in 1973. He played in San Diego and Oakland before returning to San Francisco as a free agent for his last four seasons. He won the Sporting News NL Comeback Player of the Year award his first season back with the giants in 1977.

An honor like eluded McCovey was a World Series ring. He came close to 1962 and came short in a nibble seven-game series against the Yankees. McCovey went to the two outs in the bottom of the ninth innings, his team down 1-0, with runners in the second and third base. McCovey slipped a blow to the right field, which looked as if it could drive in the winning race but instead was captured by Yankee’s second basseman Bobby Richardson to finish the game and the series. The moment was so iconic that it was in a peanut strip.

McCovey’s heritage in San Francisco has endure his career. Home runs hit the right field wall at AT & T Park Splash in McCovey Cove, and the “Willie Mac” prize, voted by players, coaches and training staff, is awarded by the giants each year to recognize the team’s most inspiring player.

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