SAN FRANCISCO – Thursday afternoon was a somber one at AT&T Park as friends, family, and fans remembered the life of Giants legend Willie McCovey. Those who came to show their respects filled the park with happy memories and unforgettable stories.
Many people from the organization past and present were in attendance including Renel Brooks-Moon, Larry Baer, Barry Bonds, Mike Krukow, Mayor London Breed, Gaylord Perry, and many others.
Krukow, a former player and longtime TV and radio announcer for the Giants, gave one of the most memorable speeches.
“I would like to invite all the past Willie Mac Award winners, please come to the stage and join me,” Krukow began.
Buster Posey, Nick Hundley, Dave Dravecky, and others gathered around.
“I started hitting whiffle balls in my backyard left handed because I wanted to be like McCovey, and if I hit one I would take the home run-trot. My elbows would be high, my hands would be up around my chest where he would have them.
“When I got to professional baseball, Willie was still playing, and as good fortune would have it, I would have an opportunity to play against him,” Krukow remembered. “Here comes McCovey [with bases loaded], the guy who has 18 lifetime grand slams, more than any other big league hitter that played the game. He stepped in the batter’s box and we had a battle.”
McCovey hit a grand slam off Krukow, but the pitcher was spared when the stumbling umpire incorrectly called it foul.
“He struck out on the next pitch but looked at me as he left the batters box and he smiled, because he knew he had me,” Krukow said.
The former Giants pitcher and 1985 & 1986 Willie Mac Award Winner also got to know McCovey later on in life. Krukow would often spend time with McCovey around the stadium and in the broadcast booth. McCovey was famous for attending nearly every Giants home game even in poor health.
“When he walked out of this ballpark at night, or I should say he was pushed in a cart, or when he was pushed in a bed, and you knew it was painful. He never ever complained, not once,” Krukow said. “You could ask him how he was doing and it would always be the same answer, ‘Oh I’m fine. Got a ballgame it’ll all be good.’
“When he left the stadium there was an endless parade of people that were giving him high fives and knuckles, they just wanted to touch him, they just wanted to tell him how much they loved him,” Kruk said choking up. “As I watched him be wheeled away with that attitude, I would hold my cane and say, ‘I want to be like him.'”
McCovey passed away last week on October 31st at the age of 80.
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