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Willie McCovey, 80, Dies; Hall of Fame Slugger With the Giants

Category: Baseball,Sports

That December, Charles M. Schulz voiced his sympathy for McCovey in a “Peanuts” comic strip. Charlie Brown sits, hands on chin, through three panels, then lifts his head and asks, “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?”

A month later, in a similar image, he lamented, “Or why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball even two feet higher?”

McCovey would never appear in a World Series again.

“I would put Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell in the same category,” Don Sutton, the star right-handed pitcher who had faced McCovey and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Stargell many times, told the Scripps Howard News Service when McCovey was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986, his first year of eligibility.

“Both were so darn big and swung the bat like they were swinging a fountain pen. You couldn’t throw the ball past them, and there was no way to trick them. They scared you.”

Bill Rigney, McCovey’s first manager with the Giants, once said, “I’ve never seen a harder hitter.”

McCovey was overshadowed at times by his teammate Willie Mays, perhaps the greatest all-around player in baseball history. But his popularity surpassed Mays’s among many San Francisco fans, because Mays had become a star in New York, while McCovey’s major league roots were in the Bay Area.

More than 30 years after his retirement, McCovey endured as a Giants presence. Although using a wheelchair, a result of numerous knee and back operations, he attended virtually every Giants home game as a senior adviser to the team.

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