Friday, September 30, 2011
#250 - Willie McCovey
Willie gets a serious card number in this set and while in some ways his numbers for '73 may seem undeserving, there were some special considerations. He crossed the 400 line in career homers. He had a pretty big comeback season, boosting his average by 50 points and more than doubling his homer and RBI totals from an injury-plagued '72. It was also his last year - for a while at least - as a Giant. So the honor was probably fitting.
For San Diego McCovey took over first base from Nate Colbert and put up stats his first two seasons that happily resembled '73 more than they did '72. He averaged .253 with 23 homers and 65 RBI's. But in '75 his walk totals came in pretty hard and his OBA dropped from .416 to .345, setting the stage for a pretty awful '76. Willie's knees were a mess, he lost starting time to Mike Ivie, and late in the season he was sold to the A's to help down the stretch. But after hitting .208 with zero RBIs in a few games, he wasn't re-signed and he returned to the Giants as a free agent. After off-season surgery he was expected to ramp things up a bit but the year he had exceeded all expectations: .280 with 28 homers, 86 RBIs, and a .367 OBA that won him the NL Comeback Player of the Year. In his 40's Willie did the slow ease, recording his 500th homer in '78 and playing things out in '80, thereby extending his career to four decades. He finished with a .270 average, 521 homers, 1,555 RBIs, a .370 OBA, and six All-Star appearances. In the post-season he hit .310 with three homers and seven RBIs in eight games. He was elected to the Hall in '86. After playing he settled into admin roles for the Giants, played some golf, and had a million knee operations. He has been getting around mostly by wheelchair the past few years and in '03 opened a restaurant in California that has been quite successful. He has a statue at the new stadium and of course, McCovey's Cove, where Barry Bonds has hit tons of homers.
Willie's card revives the little traded print. He only has room for some brief star bullets but they're awfully good ones.
This one is easier than I thought it would be:
1. McCovey and Vic Harris '77 to '78 Giants;
2. Harris and George Mitterwald '74 to '75 Cubs.