27 November 2013

the only willie mccovey final tribute

i am secure enough in my dodger fandom and blogginess that i can devote an entire point to a san francisco giant.  still, i will post it on the busiest travel day of the year when i assume fewer people than the usual dozen or so are reading.

when i was a kid, i would ask my dad to take me to dodger/giant games.  i knew about the rivalry and figured that if we were going to see the dodgers, then i wanted to see them beat the giants.  and so, i saw quite a bit of the team from nocal in the late 1970's and early 80's.

luckily for me, my dad liked to get to the ballpark early, so we would usually get to see batting practice.  as is the case with most parks, only the visiting team's bp was going on by the time the gates opened at dodger stadium.  still, i was ok with this after the first time i saw willie mccovey take bp.  in fact, i actually looked forward to seeing him take his rips before each subsequent game i attended.  the man hit the ball hard.  real hard.  it definitely made up for all the ed halicki and bob knepper starts i sat through (i don't think i ever saw vida blue pitch, unfortunately).  in fact, when i talk to friends about the five hardest hit balls i have ever seen in person, mccovey is the first person i mention.  the others, in case you are wondering, are willie stargell, jose canseco, albert belle, and carlos delgado.  i remember telling my dad about the hard hit balls mccovey was sending into the right field pavilion one time, and he mentioned the last out of the 1962 world series - a scorching mccovey line drive caught by bobby richardson.

now, i wasn't necessarily a fan of mccovey's, but i was very disappointed when i opened up my 1981 topps packs and didn't see a mccovey card anywhere.  i had been waiting for a 'final tribute' since he announced his retirement during the 1980 season and then ended his career after a series against the dodgers in july.  it was my good fortune that there were other options than topps in 1981, and fleer came through.  since donruss didn't bother, this 1981 fleer card is the only willie mccovey final tribute card around.
complete with the hall of fame stats on the back. of course, fleer lies - his minor league stats are missing.
521 - the same number of career home runs as ted williams - was good enough for 8th all-time when stretch retired.  these days, he's also tied with frank thomas, and sits at 18 on the all-time leader board.

unfortunately, i was not at the last two games in which mccovey appeared (both at dodger stadium), but i would have definitely joined the dodger fans in a standing ovation for stretch.  i loved watching him hit, as long as it was in bp.


Nick said...

McCovey has always been one of my favorite HOFers. I wish Topps had given him a spot in their '81 checklist. I think he would've looked great on that year's design.

Fuji said...

I'm with Nick... Topps definitely missed out the boat on McCovey. Kudos to Fleer for sending him off with a solid looking card.