Remembering Willie McCovey


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Willie McCovey at the 2012 World Series parade (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

There is a statue of Willie McCovey across from AT&T Park at McCovey Point in China Basin Park, San Francisco. It is now adorned with flowers and other memorabilia in honor of the man who passed away on October 31, 2018. Willie McCovey will never be forgotten in San Francisco or the hearts of baseball fans every where. I never saw McCovey play. After all, all but 11 games in his 19-year MLB career were with National League teams. Growing up in an AL town, there weren’t many opportunities to see him play. But his reputation preceded him.

According to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, McCovey was nicknamed “Stretch” due to his ability to catch throws that were wide and high. The 6’4″ player also was known for his hard hit line drives, prompting Bob Gibson to call him “the scariest hitter in baseball.” The first baseman was signed by the Giants as an amateur free agent in March 1955 at the age of 17. After four years in the minors with the Sandersville Giants, Danville Leafs, Dallas Eagles, and Phoenix Giants, McCovey made his major league debut with the San Francisco Giants on July 30, 1959. He played with the Giants through the 1973 season and then was traded to the San Diego Padres. In August 1976, his contract was purchased by the Oakland A’s. He again signed with the Giants as a free agent in 1977, where he played until his retirement in 1980. In his 22 years in the majors, McCovey amassed 2,211 hits in 2,588 games. He hit 521 home runs and had a batting average of .270. After his playing days, McCovey served as a senior advisor to the Giants for 18 more years, until his death last week.

On Wednesday, the Giants’ President and CEO, Laurence M. Baer, stated: “San Francisco and the entire baseball community lost a true gentleman and legend, and our collective hearts are broken. 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.”

Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that, unlike Willie Mays and the players that had moved with the team from New York in 1957, McCovey was the first Giants superstar for the San Francisco fans: “McCovey was a San Francisco Giant through and through, arriving in 1959.” In a series of heart-wrenching tweets, Barry Bonds said goodbye to McCovey, adding: “thank you for your mentorship and unconditional love for me and my family. You will be dearly missed.”

On Thursday, beginning at 11:30 am, the Giants will hold a public celebration of life for McCovey at AT&T Park. Those wishing to offer their condolences to the family may send letters to the team at the following address: San Francisco Giants, Attention: Forever 44, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107. Condolences may also be sent via email to  Forever44@sfgiants.com.

 

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cousin v. Cousin


Twenty years ago, on October 21, 1998, infielder Ruben Rivera got a hit off of his cousin, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the 1998 World Series. The hit mattered not, as the Yankees went on to sweep the Padres when the next batter hit into a double play and the next Padres batter became the final out of the series.

That World Series game was the only time Rivera faced Rivera. Ruben, the younger cousin, had been signed by the Yankees in 1990, making his major league debut in pinstripes on September 3, 1995. He played 46 games with the Yankees in 1995 and 1996.

Ruben was traded to the Padres in 1997. He would later play for the Reds, Rangers, and Giants. His final MLB appearance was in 2003 for the Giants.

However, that was not the end of Ruben Rivera’s baseball career. Rivera continued to play in the minors for both the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox from 2003-2006. In 2007, he made bed on to the Mexican League where he played for several teams before being traded to the Acereros de Monclova – where he still plays today.

Not a bad career. I’ll be keeping an eye on Ruben and his continued career in the Mexican League. I wonder if Mariano ever goes to see him play.

~ baseballrebecca

Casey Stengel and Mangers Over 65


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Casey Stengel in 1953

On this date in 1960, the Yankees fired manager Casey Stengel. The 70-year old Stengel had managed the Yankees since 1949, and had managed the Brooklyn Dodgers (1934-36) and Boston Braves (1938-43) prior to that. With Stengel as manager, the Yankees had amassed a 1,149-696 record (.623) and won 10 AL pennants and 7 World Championships.

Nonetheless, after the Yankees lost the 1960 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team informed Stengel that his contract would not be renewed. At a press conference announcing the decision, that Stengel had demanded, Yankees management evaded the question of why Stengel was being let go, to which Stengel responded, “Resigned, fired, quit, discharged, use whatever you damn please. I’ll never make the mistake of being seventy again.” The Yankees later stated that Stengel was terminated due to his age, which they would have done even if they had won the World Series. (Of course, it has been argued that the Yankees really wanted to hire Ralph Houk.)

Too late for Casey, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed on December 15, 1967 (effective on June 12, 1968). The law protects workers from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. As originally written, it covered employees between the ages of 40 and 65. The age range was extended to age 70 with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act Amendments of 1978. The upper-age limit was eliminated with the 1986 amendments to the act.

Good thing, too, because according to NPR a few years ago, MLB had the oldest managers of all professional sports. During the 2018 season, the average age of MLB managers was 54 years. Ten managers were over the age of 60; Jim Riggleman was the oldest at age 65 (the youngest was Kevin Cash, age 40). The oldest manager ever to manage an MLB team was Connie Mack, who lead the Philadelphia A’s for 30 years, from 1901 to 1950, before retiring at age 87.

Maybe in MLB, at least for managers, age really doesn’t matter. Casey himself continued to manage until age 75. He was hired to manage the expansion New York Mets in 1962, where he remained through much of the 1965 season – he only retired after breaking his hip that July. He officially retired from the Mets on August 30, 1965.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Films on Friday: Yamil Benitez


Do you remember Yamil Benitez? Me neither. But today is his birthday. Born on October 5, 1972, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Yamil Benitez was signed by the Montreal Expos in 1989. After six seasons in the minors he made his major league debut on September 16, 1995. Two years later he was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the expansion draft. After his MLB career, Benitez played two more seasons in the Mexican League. Today he is the president of the Asociación de Peloteros Profesionales de Puerto Rico (an organization I need to do more research on).

Benitez also hit the first walk-off home run for the Diamondbacks twenty years ago, on June 28, 1998:

 

Happy Birthday, Yamil! And Happy Friday, everyone!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Films on Friday: Bryce Harper’s Hair


Remember that tweet from a few months ago from Bryce Harper’s brother, Bryan? You know, this one:

Well, turns out this was a teaser ad for Blind Barber hair products, in which Bryce announced he’d become an investor. The full ad won the advertising industry’s 2018 Clio Fashion & Beauty Silver award:

 

 

Happy Friday!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Films on Friday: We Love Adam Jones


A lot has been written about my favorite center fielder, Adam Jones, this week – and I mean a LOT. For example:

Adam Jones has been good to the Orioles, O’s fans, and the City of Baltimore, and I hope he knows how much we love him. No matter where he ends up, he’ll always be Mr. Baltimore. So, check out one of the videos he did a few years ago as a part of the Nike Baseball YouTube series, “Between Innings“:

 

Happy Friday!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Stat-urday, 8/25/2018


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Cal Ripken in 2007, photo by Keith Allison via Wikipedia

Cal Ripken, Jr., turned 58 yesterday. In his 21 years as an Oriole, Cal amassed a lot of games, hits, and runs. Here are just a few of his MLB stats:

  • Number of teams played for: 1
  • Consecutive games played: 2,632
  • Total games played: 3,001
  • At bats: 11,551
  • Hits: 3,184
  • Doubles: 603
  • Triples: 44
  • Home runs: 431
  • Walks: 1,129
  • Intentional walks: 107
  • RBIs: 1,695
  • Double plays: 1,682
  • Stolen bases: 36
  • Strikeouts: 70
  • Caught stealing: 39
  • All-star games: 19 (every year, 1983 to 2001)
  • All-star game MVP awards: 2
  • American League MVP awards: 2
  • Silver Slugger awards: 8
  • Lifetime batting average: .276

Cal also spent four years in the minor leagues playing for the Bluefield Orioles (1978), the Miami Orioles (1979), the Charlotte Orioles (1979-80), and the Rochester Red Wings (1981). He played 443 games as a minor leaguer, with 1,652 at bats, 463 hits, and 56 home runs. His batting average in the minors was .280.

Happy Birthday, Cal!

~ baseballrebecca