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Willie McCovey, RIP
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Willie McCovey has died at age 80. He was the younger slugging sidekick to Willie Mays on the 1960s San Francisco Giants, a great team that had the bad luck to only make it to one World Series. Mays, McCovey, and Marichal were the three Ms. Heck, the 1965 Giants even had a Japanese M, Masanori Murakami.

You can kind of see why African Americans started making up unusual first names: with only a moderate number of surnames and first names, blacks used to wind up with a lot of names that sounded alike, such as Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. (Their rival Los Angeles Dodgers had two Willies as well, Davis and Crawford. “Willie” remained a stereotypical name for black ballplayers as late as the 1989 movie “Major League,” in which Wesley Snipes plays Willie Mays Hayes.)

Although Mays was more famous, most of my childhood memories of watching LA Dodger – SF Giant games from Candlestick Park on television involve Dodger pitchers letting a couple of batters (such as Bobby Bonds and Willie Mays) get on base, followed by Vin Scully saying, “And here comes McCovey,” as the camera showed black kids from the Hunter’s Point housing project pouring into the empty space behind the chainlink fence in right field. Then the towering McCovey would pull a mighty blast over the wall and the youths would scramble to come up with the ball.

Looking up his stats, I see the Dodgers actually had more success pitching to him than any other team in the league had (while McCovey owned Don Drysdale, he struggled against Don Sutton and Claude Osteen, and couldn’t touch Sandy Koufax). But he still was a nightmare to Dodger fans, especially in Candlestick.

The Giants’ superb current ballpark was built on the San Francisco Bay in such a way that prodigious blasts by lefthanded pull hitters sometimes land in the part of the Pacific Ocean dubbed McCovey’s Cove.

The Giants had a famous problem of too much talent at one position. Orlando Cepeda was Rookie of the Year in 1958 and Willie McCovey in 1959. Both were natural first basemen (i.e., bad at any other position, even left field). Finally, in 1966, the Giants traded Cepeda to the Cardinals, where he was MVP in 1967. However, McCovey was MVP for the Giants in 1969. Both made the Hall of Fame despite post-career legal problems.

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  1. J.Ross says: • Website

    OT A person is claiming that the British government is forcing them to get an abortion. They could be lying or more likely they could be like that family that had the terminally ill baby and were forbidden from seeking alternatives — regardless of the likelihood of a cure, the nature of socialized medicine dictates streamlining and limitation. It is brought up in the same thread that terminally ill people get cut off from aid and have to die in bad conditions.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  2. Obviously an inferior person, and undoubtedly very stupid.

    I learned that on here.

  3. Watched him many times at Candlestick as a kid. RIP, Willie!

    • Replies: @David In TN
  4. Sad news. I remember watching the same games you describe. Watching McCovey play first base, I learned to stretch out from the bag to get the glove as close as possible to the fielder who is throwing out the runner.

    Vin Scully probably pointed it out when Willie did it.

    • Replies: @Russ
  5. …the camera showed black kids from the Hunter’s Point housing project pouring into the empty space behind the chainlink fence in right field.

    You have to wonder if one of them was the teenage OJ Simpson. He was from nearby Potrero Hill.

    But not anymore:

    How the poor neighborhood that OJ forgot turned rich and forgot him back

    “Potrero”, by the way, is typed entirely on the top row of letters.

    • Replies: @Clifford Brown
  6. What I remember was that one brave season somewhere in the Giants lean years when an aging McCovey came back from San Diego to deliver one last credible (.271 average, 20hr) season leading a ragged San Francisco team on a hopeless quest around the middle of the standings; I think they wound up in fourth, but it was fun.

  7. Johnny789 says:

    I see where he’s from Alabama. If he was growing up today he’d want to be a pass catching TE for the Crimson Tide.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Dtbb
  8. MarkinLA says:

    he struggled against Don Sutton

    Don Sutton grew up in the wrong era. I don’t know how many times I was listening to the Dodgers and Sutton would take a 1-0 or 2-1 lead into the 8th or 9th inning and lose (usually on some home run). Even at the end of his career he admitted he was a 7 inning pitcher. If he had been pulled early and won those games, instead of 324 and 256 he would have been about 380 and 210 (some decisions would have been blown by the relievers resulting in no decisions).

    In those days, you just didn’t pull a starter with a lead – especially a guy who was pitching a shutout. The Dodgers just stank when it came to getting runs for their pitchers.

    By the time I was listening to the Dodgers, Mays was on the downhill slide and McCovey was always more dangerous.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  9. @MarkinLA

    The Dodgers seemed to lag about five years behind other teams in evolving conceptions of how to use relief pitchers.

    • LOL: bomag
  10. eah says:

    Very sad news — as a teenager in the SFBA during the late 1970s, I listened regularly to the radio broadcasts of both the A’s and the Giants — I still remember Giants announcer Lon Simmons going crazy when McCovey hit two homers in the 6th inning at Riverfront against the Reds, the second one a grand slam — that was 1977.

    5. Two home runs in the same inning, twice — Players have hit two home runs in the same inning, and even two grand slams in one inning, but nobody has done the former twice–except McCovey. On Jun. 27, 1977, at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, he hit a solo home run in the sixth inning off the Reds’ Jack Billingham. In the same inning, he hit another home run, a grand slam, against Joe Hoerner. The Giants won that game 14-9.

    A truly nice, humble guy too. So long Willie.

  11. @Johnny789

    Frank Thomas of the 1990s White Sox was subject to a dispute between the football and baseball coaches at his college (Clemson?):

    Football coach: If he drops baseball and concentrates on playing tight end, he could go to the NFL.
    Baseball coach: If he drops football and concentrates on hitting a baseball, he could go to the Hall of Fame.

    Baseball is more of a “knack” sport than football, which, outside of quarterback, is mostly a test of F=MA. For example, Justin Turner has more of a knack for hitting a baseball than Giancarlo Stanton does. On the other hand, Turner couldn’t play in the NFL, but Stanton could. But if you have a knack that baseball rewards, it’s a very nice knack to have.

    • Replies: @Polynikes
    , @PaceLaw
    , @Johnny789
  12. @Reg Cæsar

    From Wikipedia…

    His father was a well-known drag queen in the San Francisco Bay Area. Later in life, Jimmy Simpson announced that he was gay. He died of AIDS.[7][8]

    This might add a whole new angle to the OJ Story, I did not even think that was possible.

    Potrero Hill, San Francisco is a pretty unique neighborhood. The hill geography away from Downtown creates a special sense of isolation while being in the middle of the City. That being said, once you pass the crest of Potrero Hill, the southside of the hill is a massive housing project. OJ Simpson grew up in the housing project section of Potrero Hill and it is still very much around and immune from gentrification, but there are plans to eventually replace the projects with mixed income housing.

    • Replies: @Marty
  13. Polynikes says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Believe it was Auburn and he even crossed paths with another baseball/football star in Bo Jackson.

  14. Dtbb says:

    How many great athletes came from Alabama a little older or near McCovey’s age cohort?

    • Replies: @hhsiii
    , @dneal
  15. hhsiii says:

    Just a little younger, Miracle Mets stars Cleon Jones (Mobile) and Tommie Agee (nearby Magnolia).

    • Replies: @Wolf
    , @njguy73
  16. @obwandiyag

    On the other hand, being a sports hero doesn’t mean he’s obviously a superior, smart person either.

    All we can say about him is that he could hit a baseball well.

    As with Kaepernick, McCovey’s opinions about race relations, politics and social justice are of no more importance and significance to us than are his personal preferences in music or hats.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Bugg
  17. @ThreeCranes

    But, he could really hit a baseball a long ways.

    • Replies: @Tony
  18. dr kill says:

    There was a time I actually gave a shit about baseball, and McCovey was a large part of it. I think the Pete Rose thing is what finally tore it for me. The Puritans came early in MLB.

    • Replies: @William Badwhite
  19. FPD72 says:

    In about 1975 I saw McCovey play against the Astros in the now defunct Astrodome. He hit a screaming line drive foul ball into the stands that hit a woman in the head. He stepped out of the box, held up his hand, and halted play until the woman was tended to and removed from the stands. It seemed that the umpire wanted to resume play but McCovey wasn’t going to cooperate and the umpire was powerless to do anything in the face of McCovey’s quiet dignity.

    Your readers might wonder why you saw McCovey against the Dodgers only in Candlestick Park. It was because back then the Dodgers only permitted their away games to be televised, not wanting TV to hurt their live gate.

  20. Bugg says:

    McCovey like a lot of athletes in simpler times got screwed for taking cash money in card shows. Same thing at the same time happened to Duke Snider. That probably went on a lot, and still does. Cooperstown around HoF induction is an example. As with Joe Louis, strikes me as unfair the Feds tortured an otherwise decent guy over about something he had no real savvy about. RIP.

  21. FPD72 says:

    Yeah, it was Auburn.

    In 1992 or 1993 I was flying from Oakland to Long Beach, returning from a business trip. The flight was delayed for some unannounced reason that soon became evident.

    A large contingent of men came on board. One who went past me in the aisle looked just like Bo Jackson. Then a HUGE fellow walked by: Frank Thomas, which confirmed my recognition of Jackson. It turned out that the White Sox team plane had maintenance issues and the team needed to fly down on commercial for the start of a three game series against the Angels.

  22. Pentheus says:

    Dear Steve – Point of grammar –

    “Mays, McCovey, and Marichal were the three Ms. ”

    Being a writer, I am a “grammar police” kind of guy.. (The offended do not understand that grammar policing begins with one’s OWN writing, not critiquing others’.)

    I have come to regard it as much preferable to use a possessive type apostrophe with this kind of “s” ending, for comprehension’s sake, to write plurals of abbreviations/acronyms.

    In this case:

    “[They] were the three M’s.”

    Otherwise your brain first perceives the unmarried female honorific, “Ms.”

    I believe there is actually a kind of “rule” about this: an apostrophe may/should be used with “s” if it prevents confusion, such as in the above.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    , @res
    , @Bob Laughlin
  23. dneal says:

    Of course the is Henry Aaron (Mobile) in the same age group

  24. The thing I remember most was watching him him hit line drives. Willie Mc Covey had very long arms and played with a long barreled bat with a very heavy end on it so when he pulled his swing, which was every pitch, he would either hit it into right field, foul it (line drive) into the lower 1st base stands, or strike out. The 1st and 2nd basemen probably hated having to field his ground balls. Sometimes they would have this viscous hook or slice on them. Always exciting to watch.

    • Replies: @Prof. Woland
  25. mhowell says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Glad you brought this up. First thing I thought of when I read that Mr. McCovey had passed. I think there’s actually a third strip that knocks it down to ” … One foot higher”.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  26. Wolf says:

    Also from that era, Hall of Famer Billy Williams is from Whistler, Alabama.

  27. PaceLaw says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Hey Steve,

    Frank Thomas played only one season (1986) of football at Auburn University. His stats that year we’re not even noteworthy: three catches for 45 yards for the entire season. Apparently a football-related ankle injury helped make up his mind to solely pursue baseball in 1987. Here is an article on what some coaches had to say about him as a player.

  28. PaceLaw says:

    Interesting observation about African-American names:

    “You can kind of see why African Americans started making up unusual first names: with only a moderate number of surnames and first names, blacks used to wind up with a lot of names that sounded alike, such as Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.”

    I would posit that the rise in unusual African-American names has more to do with the radicalism of the mid-to-late 60s than an overabundance of similar names and surnames. Did the name “LaKeisha” even exist before 1965? This was also the time of the birth of that silly-ass African-American alternative Christmas known as Kwanzaa. The desire to connect with the “Motherland” was so strong that many African Americans started to reject straightlaced, conformist, and white-sounding names.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  29. Johnny789 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    The A’s had to give Kyler Murray a big bonus after they drafted him, but he still wants to be the QB for Oklahoma no matter how much it may impact his potential earnings down the road. Bo probably wishes he quit football earlier than he had to.

  30. @Polynikes

    Bo was already a Royal by the time Frank got to college, but it’s interesting how Auburn had two similar athletes back-to-back.

  31. I was wondering who Ms. Heck was, but it turns out you were pluralizing M.

    For single letters, you should use an apostrophe: M’s.

    the empty space behind the chainlink fence in right field.

    This was back when Candlestick Park was an actual ballpark. Then they ruined it by turning it into a stadium for the 49ers. This also happened in Anaheim.

  32. istevefan says:

    Bo is a good example of why it is advantageous to choose baseball over football if one has that opportunity. Bo would have been great in either sport, but football is the one that gave him his career-ending injury.

    As a Royals fan, it was a terrible day when he was injured in a football game. To make matters worse it happened in a Raiders uniform. Royals fans are also Chiefs fans and we detest the Raiders.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  33. @istevefan

    Counting that game, the Bengals are 0-8 in the playoffs since ending Bo’s football career.

    This is the longest steak in the NFL.

  34. Marty says:

    Never heard this McCovey story before last night. L.A. native Mike Krukow, who never gave up a major league grand slam, says McCovey hit one off him that was 10 feet fair and curled around the foul pole. But the umpire stumbled while running down the line, and called it foul. McCovey didn’t argue. McCovey also said the famous 16-inning Marichal-Spahn game should have ended in the 9th when he hit one out, but that too was called foul.

  35. Marty says:
    @Clifford Brown

    In 1990 one of SF’s leading plaintiff lawyers told me he always tried to get jurors who lived in the Potrero. He said, “If you can live there, you get along with all sorts of people.”

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  36. bomag says:

    Don’t worry, the future is yours, and you and yours can fly high, high into the sky.

  37. @Prof. Woland

    Another thing I remember was that he used a bottle neck bat. If he hit the ball with the meat and his arms were fully extended the ball would jump like a rocket. If the pitch was low and inside on the wrists, he would frequently crack or break his bat or the ball would ricochet around the infield in an unexpected direction. Of course the infield would play back as far as they could so he would gallop down to first and make it sometimes just because everyone was expecting a bullet.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  38. Sad to see another of the MLB stars of my youth pass on. I know a guy who played minor league ball with McCovey. I remember when McCovey hit that screeching liner into Bobby Richardson’s glove for the final out of the ’62 WS though I didn’t actually see the game due to high school football practice. I remember reading that after the game he sat in front of a group of sportswriters who kept peppering him with “what if” questions and McCovey kept repeating in so many words that he had no control over the direction of the ball once he hit it. I believe that his fan base in San Fran was larger than that of the “other” Willie because, unlike the latter (who came West from New York), McCovey (and Orlando Cepeda) came up AFTER the Giants moved to San Francisco and was thus considered home-grown and thus one of “theirs”.

    RIP, Stretch.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  39. @Marty

    Why would that matter?

    • Replies: @Marty
  40. @dr kill

    Pete Rose was and is a colossal douchebag and deserved the punishment he received (or worse). He is a low IQ and low character scoundrel with one notable skill in life – hitting a baseball. Even for that he’s over-rated – very limited power and a huge number of his hits came via grounders on hard, fast astroturf in Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

    Yes there have been worse people in the game, but Rose is no victim. He brought it on himself.

    Rule 21 (d) is posted in every professional dugout, locker room, and clubhouse. Between countless minor league and MLB games as a player and manager Rose must have seen it tens of thousands of times:

    (d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.

    Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

    • Replies: @David In TN
    , @dr kill
  41. Ron says:

    As a kid growing up in the bay area in the 60′s and 70′s I spent enormous number of hours listening to the two Willie’s on the Giants radio. Interesting with all of the current talk about strategic positioning on defense, the “Willie McCovey Shift” (shortstop to the right of second base, third baseman closer to second base) was a staple against him in the later years. I still remember Mays getting on first, defense pulling the shift against McCovey, and him bunting it into left field for a double with Mays scoring from first.

    Still have a Willie McCovey signature bat from Bat Day underneath the bed (no firearms for me).

  42. Anonymous[264] • Disclaimer says:
    @Prof. Woland

    That’s the opposite of bottle-neck. The term refers to a milk bottle, with the lower half of the bat being fat. That’s the Nellie Fox model.

    • Replies: @Prof. Woland
  43. anon[246] • Disclaimer says:

    Obviously an inferior person, and undoubtedly very stupid.

    I learned that on here.

    Sorry, but you haven’t learned that on here. Individual cases and group averages are unrelated. Income tracks by height, but the 5 foot 9 inch height group contains Tom Cruise who is worth millions, the homeless guy downtown who is worth nothing, and myself somewhere in between these extremes. Even if you are 5 foot 9 inches and make exactly the average income of the 5 foot 9 inch group, your height doesn’t cause your income. Many other factors besides height weigh far more heavily in why you make the income you do.
    Height is a small weight on the scale, sometimes decreasing a person’ income, sometimes having no effect on income, and sometimes increasing a person’s income (think horse jockeys). Averaged out over thousands of cases, height is worth about $600 a year per inch in increased income.
    Same for race. An individual is who he is, and even if he lands at his race group average on an intelligence test there are many factors putting him there that he may or may not have in common with his race, and many other people not of his race with the same score.
    Racial group averages tell us about the group, not any specific individual in the group such as Willie McCovey.
    Understanding this makes it possible to be forewarned about groups and their average behaviors while simultaneously not mis-judging any individual.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  44. @Malcolm X-Lax

    I watched him many times on the TV game of the week. You didn’t leave when he came up.

  45. You can kind of see why African Americans started making up unusual first names: with only a moderate number of surnames and first names, blacks used to wind up with a lot of names that sounded alike, such as Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. (Their rival Los Angeles Dodgers had two Willies as well, Davis and Crawford. “Willie” remained a stereotypical name for black ballplayers as late as the 1989 movie “Major League,” in which Wesley Snipes plays Willie Mays Hayes.)

    Not to mention Willie Horton (36 homers in the “year of the pitcher”) and Willie Stargell.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  46. Russ says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    RIP, Willie. I knew he had been in terrible health for some time.

    Regarding McCovey’s fielding his position, my favorite McCovey story comes out of St. Louis, from the era when Lou Brock was the stolen base king. Asked in an interview about which pitchers held him closest to first base, Brock at one point in his answer detoured and said that when he reached first against SF, he knew he was in for it (no matter who was pitching) because McCovey would absolutely pound him about the neck and shoulders with the tag on pickoff attempts. The player whose .391 lifetime World Series batting average over 87 ABs is/was the highest such average in MLB history then praised McCovey for his competitiveness. Respect.

  47. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    This person J.Ross seems to have a fetish for “OT” comments early in threads.

    Why is this condoned by Mr. Sailer?

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  48. Tony says:
    @Steve Sailer

    He was known as a pull hitter, so much so that when he came up to bat the fielders did what was known as The McCovey Shift.

  49. @ben tillman

    Wonder how many were named for William Howard Taft, as Mays was through his father.

  50. @Pentheus

    No one is confusing those three with any female.

  51. There is actually an argument (subject to some serious data checking) that Stretch was the greatest first baseman of all time.

    The ( ranking of the top 20th century first baseman by career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is as follows:

    Gehrig 112
    Pujols 100
    Foxx 96
    Bagwell 80
    Thomas 74
    Thome 73
    Palmeiro 72
    Mize 71
    Murray 71
    Cabrera 69
    Murray 69
    McCovey 65

    The above ranking, however, (1) makes no adjustment for how much more competitive baseball was post-integration, (2) can’t take into account the effect of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), (3) uses a good, but not the best, metric for defensive value, and (4) takes no account of the effect of so-called ‘clutch’ hitting.

    Taking these factors in reverse order, the best metric for hitting value adjusted for how ‘clutch’ the batter was is Win Probability Added (WPA), which is also reported on Stretch has a large delta (+23 wins) between (1) his batting wins above average used in the calculation of his overall WAR (about 50 offensive wins above average) and (2) his WPA (about 73 offensive wins above average).

    My book, Wizardry: Baseball’s All-Time Greatest Fielders Revealed (OUP 2011), estimates that Stretch was about 7 wins less bad on defense as estimated by

    The 23-win delta on offense and 7-win delta on defense would add 30 wins to Stretch’s WAR, bringing it from 65 to . . . 95, more or less tied for third with Foxx and only 5 wins behind Pujols.

    Gehrig and Foxx played under much less competitive circumstances. Pujols may (or may not) have benefitted from PEDs. And McCovey unfairly lost playing time because he began his career when the Giants had Orlando Cepeda.

    The biggest unknown that could be quantified is how accurately WPA was calculated by for Stretch. The WPA calculations depend upon so-called “play-by-play” data (not just annual totals of outs, HRs, etc.), and there is a lot of missing play-by-play data for the Giants during the 1960s and early 1970s. So maybe there is a data glitch.

    Stretch’s career delta between his ‘clutch-adjusted’ offensive wins and his non-clutch-adjusted offensive wins is almost certainly the largest reported by Does anyone recall Stretch being considered an especially ‘clutch’ hitter?

    The other great player with a large ‘clutch’ value above his standard offensive wins estimate is Yogi Berra, who has a 16-win delta. That might be explainable by the fact that the most clutch situations are when late in the game the score is close and runners are on base, and Berra rarely struck out or hit into double plays. That’s exactly the hitter profile (leaving aside a mysterious knack for ‘rising to the occasion’) you want under those circumstance.

    But I can’t see how McCovey’s hitting profile (lots of Ks and HRs) would help his ‘clutchiness’.

  52. @Michael A. Humphreys

    Does anyone recall Stretch being considered an especially ‘clutch’ hitter?

    My main memory of watching games from Candlestick Park in 1968-1970 is of McCovey hitting three run homers to crush the Dodgers. Whether that was because he was particularly good with men on base or he was just all around good during his peak years, I dunno.

  53. J.Ross says: • Website

    Why is it allowed to spam the same text? That’s normally universally forbidden. Not using a name is not forbidden per se but it’s flaunting the site rules and board culture. You’re supposed to pick a name. Having a name enables reviewing a user’s posting history.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  54. @mhowell

    That’s the irony, isn’t it? The one play that defined his career. (Unlike Mays, who had “the catch” robbing Vic Wertz of a sure HR in any other park but CF’s Polo Grounds).

    Speaking of which, there’s a meme retro-ish Peanuts strip with Charlie Brown’s anguish “Why couldn’t they have let Marshawn run the ball just one more time?”

  55. J.Ross says: • Website

    They always had funky names, but the names tended not to have an African (or pseudo-African) character until the 70s. Thurgood isn’t a conventional name.
    Since it originally derived from the practice of naming your kid after the reigning monarch, the English must have much earlier encountered the Problem of Too Many Willies.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  56. @Michael A. Humphreys

    “(1) makes no adjustment for how much more competitive baseball was post-integration, ”

    That’s an opinion, not a fact. If society starts taking that sour grapes attitude ‘Everything sucks cause racism, racism.’ Oh wait, most of current society does take that attitude.

    “(2) can’t take into account the effect of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), ”

    Irrelevant for looking back into history. Lots of things didn’t exist back then, so what? One can only play during one’s own era. Fantasy football didn’t exist back then either.

    “(4) takes no account of the effect of so-called ‘clutch’ hitting.”

    Irrelevant. The best relevance for how good or great a player is, and the WAR stat, would be of course,
    did the individual contribute to a WS Championship, yes, or no? And if he did contribute, then to how many WS Championships did he contribute to?

    Like it or not, NY Yankees by any consistent metric have been MLB’s most successful franchise during the entire 20th century, and that’s an objective fact. IF the main criteria is winning WS Championships.

    Naturally, as the greatest MLB franchise team, one would tend to look at their greatest players. Gerhig also set the record of most consecutive games played, which does take some durability. During his 13.5 yrs as a starting 1B NY went to 7 WS and won 6, which is pretty good.

    “Gehrig and Foxx played under much less competitive circumstances.”

    That’s an opinion, and not a fact. In a court of law, one must demonstrate their case with facts. 7 WS and 6 Championships is an excellent metric by which to judge a starting player, especially Gerhig as he didn’t miss a game during his career as a starting 1B.

    “And McCovey unfairly lost playing time because he began his career when the Giants had Orlando Cepeda.”

    ‘Whoever said that life was fair?’–JFK

    Ironically, McCovey’s greatest chance to demonstrate being “clutch”, would’ve been, as Charlie Brown correctly observed, to have hit the ball a few feet higher, thus scoring two runs and giving SF the 1962 WS Championship. But in the biggest opportunity to appear clutch (9th inning of game 7 of the WS), Stretch failed. The winning pitcher was Ralph Terry, who tossed a complete game. Repeat, a COMPLETE GAME. The pitcher who lost to PIT Mazeroski in game 7 of the 9th inning just two yrs earlier.

    If anyone was clutch in game 7 of the ’62 WS it was NY Ralph Terry. Incredible. Nine innings pitched and a 1-0 score vs the team that lead MLB in total runs scored that yr. Didn’t NY Manager Ralph Houk know that Bill James wouldn’t have approved of such an antic? Why didn’t NY do the correct thing and have five pitchers pitch game 7? And on the road in SF, no less!

  57. res says:

    My copy of The Chicago Manual of Style (14th edition, page 197, 6.16) says abbreviations are pluralized by adding the s alone “So far as it can be done without confusion.”

    6.82 notes an exception for some proverbial expressions (e.g. “Mind your p’s and q’s.”)

    This particular example (three Ms) is interesting because the confusion is most possible only when followed by a period.

    The Google Ngram Viewer indicates “three M’s” was more common before about 1992, but “three Ms” is more common since then.

  58. @Steve Sailer

    Same with The Big Red Machine.

  59. @Steve Sailer

    Wasn’t McCovey the one who hit the line shot that was caught to end Game 7 of the ’61 World Series against the Yankees? My understanding is that ball was smoked but right at the fielder.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  60. @The preferred nomenclature is...

    Down 1-0 with 2 outs in bottom of 9th and the tying run on 3rd and Series-winning run on 2nd, McCovey smashed a line drive right at 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson. If Richardson hadn’t been there probably either Maris or Mantle would have come up throwing to home to try to throw out Willie Mays at the plate to keep the Giants from winning the 1962 World Series. The ball was hit so hard that if it didn’t get between Mantle and Maris in right center and roll to the wall, they might have had an outside chance of throwing out Mays, although Mays was so fast it would have taken an absolutely perfect throw. That would have been a pretty classic moment.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    , @MC
    , @MC
  61. @J.Ross

    Reading about the reign of King Henry VIII, there are way too many Thomases to keep track of.

  62. @Steve Sailer

    Reading about the reign of King Henry VIII, there are way too many Thomases to keep track of.

    This is a significant problem with trying to learn English history. I’m listening to the History of England podcast, and I’m just up to the point at which Henry Bolingbroke usurps Richard II. I have about had it with the Edwards, the Henries, and the Richards. It would be a lot easier to keep track if the endless but narrow stream of classy English names were diverted by the occasional Skyler, or even Nigel or Jason.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  63. RIP, Stretch. You were one of the greats.

    (Thanks, Steve, for paying your respects.)

  64. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    As if you cared what others here have to say…

    You may think you’re part of the show, but this is “Steve’s” blog, not yours. If you have a suggested subject, you can send him an email. Your compulsive “OT” comments are rude and selfish. When you attend a party, do you head for the piano or break into song? Please control yourself.

    To Mr. Sailer:

    You and your largely respectful readership shouldn’t put up with this. Whimming these people into line may cost you a FanBoy or two, but your work and the comments about it will be seen in a much better light.

  65. @Steve Sailer

    In Bombers, the NY book collection of player interviews, Richardson states that he had been playing McCovey the same way the entire series. The ball wasn’t very difficult to catch at all (as he was in the correct position for a LH power hitter). Richardson mentioned that the ball was one of the hardest hit balls he’d ever caught. But the play itself was relatively easy to make as he was in perfect position for where McCovey tended to hit the ball.

    Maris might have had a harder time throwing out Mays, as he had injured his shoulder in game 2. An injured shoulder vs Mays, then one of the fastest baserunners in all of MLB? Not bloody likely. The bigger question was why Matty Alou didn’t score on Mays’ double. He could’ve. Perhaps he didn’t get an early jump on the ball. But in game 7 of WS in the 9th inning, you run for home, period. You can’t assume that the next hitter is going to tie/win the game. Run.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  66. @The Last Real Calvinist

    But obviously there’s no Shanequas, Snoop, or Kanyes.

  67. keypusher says:

    I have an older friend who’s a fanatic SF Giant fan. He said McCovey was the all time most popular SF Giant, bar none. Of course I asked about Willie Mays. His answer:

    “McCovey was more popular than Mays.

    We had sort of inherited Mays, part of him still belonged to New York. McCovey was all ours, and came up during the teams’ second year in SF.

    Plus McCovey was always open and friendly. Mays was kind of a grouch. You can’t blame him with all the attention he got, but he was not real friendly with people who wanted to talk to him, get an autograph or take a picture.”

  68. Marty says:

    Are you serious? Ah well, maybe JackD will explain it.

  69. @Anonymous

    His was more like a champagne bottle.

  70. @anon

    Blahblahblah. Writing more doesn’t mean you are smarter.

    And if you don’t think this website’s only real purpose is to prove that every single black is inferior, that is, stupid, then you can’t read.

  71. @Prester John

    I saw the end of the 1962 WS on TV as school was out by then. I’ve read many times that the SF fans liked both Cepeda and McCovey better than Willie Mays due to the New York Thing.

    Longtime Bay area columnist Glenn Dickey wrote that the SF fans did appreciate Mays, despite what the New York writers said.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  72. @William Badwhite

    The thing about Pete Rose betting on games while a manager was if he had a bet down on Tuesday’s game but not Wednesday’s, he might use a pitcher Tuesday he would otherwise have rested a day longer.

    This meant even though Rose was presumably betting on his own team, it was interfering with how he managed and meant he was trying harder to win in some games than others.

  73. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Yankee RF Roger Maris made one of the best plays of his career. He cut Mays double off at the foul line before it got to the fence. Maris got the ball to second baseman Richardson very fast. The consensus was Matty Alou would have been out by 20 feet had he been waved home.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  74. @David In TN

    So if McCovey’s liner had gone into right center, Maris or Mantle might have had a play at the plate on Mays with the World Series on the line. That might rank near the top of all time great What If non-events in baseball.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  75. @David In TN

    And the bookies could tell from the size of Pete Rose’s bets on his own team’s games how confident he was feeling about his team’s chances game by game.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  76. @David In TN

    Nobody didn’t appreciate Willie Mays, but San Francisco fans didn’t feel proprietary about him because by the time he arrived in San Francisco the whole world loved him. Whereas Cepeda and McCovey came up as rookies in San Francisco, so locals felt like they’d discovered them first.

  77. @Steve Sailer

    I had people tell me Rose betting on his team while managing didn’t matter. When I explained how it did, they realized a manager (or player) betting was trouble.

    • Replies: @anon
  78. @Steve Sailer

    If the ball was hit to the side of Bobby Richardson, it would have gone toward Maris, maybe on one or two hops.

    After the game, Giant manager Alvin Dark said “Mays would have been home and dressed.” In his 1966 book, Mays said “I would have too.”

    I remember Tiger left fielder Willie Horton throwing out Lou Brock (he made the mistake of not sliding) at home plate in the fifth game of the 1968 World Series. It turned the Series around as the Tigers came back to win in seven over the Cardinals after being down 3 games to one.

    You wouldn’t have thought Lou Brock could be thrown out at home on a solid single to left, but he was.

  79. anon[144] • Disclaimer says:
    @David In TN

    Read somewhere once that Rogers Hornsby was a problem horse gambler, and maybe he was, but it seems unlikely that Pete Rose was the first MLB Manager to run into problems.

  80. @David In TN

    This meant even though Rose was presumably betting on his own team, it was interfering with how he managed

    Exactly, it has the potential to affect the integrity of the game. That’s why its not only against the rules, but why violating those rules gets you banned for life.

    The point about the Rule 21(d) being posted in every dugout, clubhouse, etc was to underline that Rose (assuming the imbecile could read) knew what the penalty would be. It isn’t buried in fine print somewhere at the back of the rule book. Its right there at eye-level for every player, coach, executive, etc to see, every single day. He knew exactly what he was doing, he did it anyway, and then he lied about it.

  81. MC says:
    @Steve Sailer

    It inspired these two comics from famed Santa Rosa resident Charles Schultz:

  82. MC says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Inspiring these comics from famed Santa Rosa resident Charles Schultz:

  83. dr kill says:
    @William Badwhite

    You asked for Puritans and I give you Puritans.

  84. @Pentheus

    Wrong. M’s implies that M possesses something. Ms is correct, as is 60s, 70s, etc. (although this font stupidly lower-cases the zeroes). The Athletics need to get that apostrophe out of their logo.

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