As a large man that stood 6 feet 4 inches and weighed 198 pounds, baseball great Willie McCovey played most of his professional career as a team mate of the amazing Willie Mays, and it seems his true ability was never fully recognized by most baseball fans. When his career ended however, Willie McCovey had etched his name on the annals of baseball history as one of the most consistent power hitting first basemen of all time, and was duly rewarded with enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986 for his efforts.
Born in Mobile, Alabama on January 10, 1938, Willie McCovey was a standout as a baseball player at Central High School. Signed by the New York Giants as a free agent in 1955 McCovey spent the next four years playing minor league baseball in the then segregated deep south. The road to the big leagues was a tough one - at one point McCovey was prompted to sit out a game scheduled in Shreveport, Louisiana due to racial tensions in the area.
In his rookie season of 1959 McCovey was named National League Rookie of the Year, playing in only 52 games but amassing 13 home runs, 38 runs batted in and hitting for a .354 batting average. Over the next four seasons Willie McCovey played part-time, but had a breakout season in 1963 hitting 44 home runs good for 102 runs batted in.
In his 22 year major league career McCovey hit over 20 home runs in a season 11 times, over 30 home runs 7 times and over 40 home runs twice. He played for the San Francisco Giants from from 1959 to 1973, for the San Diego Padres from 1974 to 1976, for the Oakland Athletics in 1976 and again for the Giants from 1977 to 1980. His best season came in 1969 as he hit 45 home runs with 126 runs batted in, had a .320 batting average and was named the National League Most Valuable Player. McCovey was also the 1969 MLB All-Star Game MVP, going 2 for 4 with two home runs in a 9-6 National League victory. McCovey was named the 1977 National League Comeback Player of the year following a dismal 1976 season. For his career Willie McCovey finished with 2,211 hits, 521 home runs, 1,555 runs batted in and a .270 batting average.
Since retiring Willie McCovey has opened a restaurant in Walnut Creek, California - McCovey's Restaurant.