SAN FRANCISCO -- Willie McCovey, one of the most prolific hitters in MLB history, died Wednesday afternoon.
The Giants announced that McCovey, a Baseball Hall of Famer, passed away peacefully after losing his battle with ongoing health issues. McCovey was 80 years old.
“San Francisco and the entire baseball community lost a true gentleman and legend, and our collective hearts are broken,” Giants president and CEO Larry Baer said in a team-issued statement. “Willie was a beloved figure throughout his playing days and in retirement. He will be deeply missed by the many people he touched.
“For more than six decades, he gave his heart and soul to the Giants — as one of the greatest players of all time, as a quiet leader in the clubhouse, as a mentor to the Giants who followed in his footsteps, as an inspiration to our Junior Giants, and as a fan cheering on the team from his booth.”
McCovey is survived by his wife, Estela; his daughter, Allison; and her children, Raven, Philip and Marisa, as well as his brothers, Clauzell and Cleon, and his sister, Frances. The Giants plan to hold a public celebration of McCovey’s life at a later date.
McCovey had health issues in recent years and was confined to a wheelchair, but he still was a regular at AT&T Park, where the cove beyond right field has taken his name. In his playing days, McCovey was one of the most feared hitters in the game, and he put together a career that is nearly unmatched by left-handed hitters in MLB history.
McCovey played 19 of his 22 seasons with the Giants, debuting at the age of 21 and going 4-for-4 off Robin Roberts, a future Hall of Famer. That simply was a taste of what was to come.
McCovey, was the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1959 and the MVP in 1969. He hit 521 home runs and drove in 1,555 runs. He slugged .515 across more than 8,000 career at-bats — for comparison’s sake, just 10 NL players bested that number in 2018.
McCovey dealt with multiple health complications in recent years, but his daughter, Allison, said he passed away peacefully.
“I am grateful that my father passed peacefully surrounded by his family and friends while listening to his favorite sports channel,” Allison said in a statement put out by the team.
Estela McCovey said Willie will be “terribly missed.”
“He was my best friend and husband,” Estela said in a statement. “Living life without him will never be the same.”
McCovey was a six-time All-Star and led the NL in homers three times. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986, his first year of eligibility, but his legacy off the field is just as strong.
Every year, the Giants hand out the Willie Mac Award, given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership consistently shown by McCovey. In short, it is the award given to the most inspirational Giant, and it is voted on by teammates, coaches, clubhouse staff and McCovey.
Despite his health issues, McCovey always made it out to the ballpark for the ceremony, and he was on hand last month to give the award to Will Smith.