Happy 75th birthday, Willie McCoveyby Chris Jaffe
January 10, 2013
A few days ago, baseball celebrated the 100th birthday of arguably the greatest NL first baseman of the 20th century, Johnny Mize. Today, the game has the 75th birthday of Mize’s main competitor for that honor, San Francisco Giants great Willie McCovey.
Sure, 75 isn't quite as nice a big, round number as 100, but McCovey has one big advantage over Mize: he’s still alive to celebrate his big b-day.
McCovey was one of the game’s greatest sluggers, ending his career tied with Ted Williams at 521 homers. Just the 12th member of the 500-homer club, he truly could claim to be one of the best home run hitters of all-time.
Strangely enough, though, McCovey has no claim at all to being the best slugger from his hometown born in the 1930s. McCovey was born on Jan. 10 (obviously), 1938 in Mobile, Alabama, just 47 months after a young Hank Aaron entered the world as a Mobile man.
A lot of great black athletes came out of Alabama in those years. Aside from Aaron and McCovey, you had Willie Mays, and Billy Williams. That’s a nice four-some of Hall of Fame talent.
Actually, there’s a really great All-Alabama-born team anchored by those guys. Here it is:
C – Luke Sewell
1B –Willie McCovey
2B – Frank Bolling
SS – Ozzie Smith
3B – Joe Sewell
RF – Hank Aaron
CF – Willie Mays
LF – Billy Williams
SP – Satchel Paige
SP – Don Sutton
SP – Jimmy Key
SP – Virgil Trucks
SP – Jake Peavy
RP – Clay Carroll
Bench: Heinie Manush, Amos Otis, Lee May, Willie Wilson, George Foster, Rudy York, Riggs Stephenson, Jim Davenport, Spud Davis, Matt Cain, Jeff Brantley, Al Worthington, Doyle Alexander.
That’s some lineup, especially the outfield.
McCovey was a great talent, and today he celebrates his 75th birthday.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Today. Here they are, with the better items in bold if you’d rather just skim.
2,000 days since David Wells and Jamie Moyer square off against each other. At a combined age of 88 years and 307 days, it’s the second-oldest duel since at least 1900. Only a Phil Niekro-Don Sutton game from June, 1987 tops it.
2,000 days since Willie Harris gets six hits in one game for Atlanta. Two of the hits are triples.
2,000 days since the Pirates retire No. 11 for Paul Waner.
4,000 days since the Rangers sign Ismael Valdez as a free agent.
6,000 days since Ken Griffey Jr. lays down a sacrifice bunt, something he hadn’t down in nearly five full seasons. It’ll be another five years until the next one.
6,000 days since Chipper Jones receives a walk-off walk. It’s one of two he’ll get in his career.
9,000 days since the Red Sox retire No. 1 for Bobby Doerr.
10,000 days since veteran NL pitcher Rick Reuschel has perhaps his best day ever at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, home run, two runs scored, and three driven in.
25,000 days since Joe Medwick hits his 500th double.
40,000 days since White Sox outfielder Danny Green punches out an umpire after being called out at first base in a game against the Yankees. He’s taken from the ballpark and arrested for disorderly conduct, but his bail is paid by the Yankees' team president.
1835 Hall of Fame manager Harry Wright is born.
1873 Chick Stahl, an outfielder who later commits suicide, is born.
1888 Del Pratt, star AL second baseman of the 1910s who appeared in every game for five straight seasons, is born.
1890 Boston purchases star first baseman Tommy Tucker from Baltimore for $3,000.
1900 The Giants purchase starting pitcher Win Mercer from Washington.
1903 The NL-AL peace meeting to settle disputes between the two rival leagues comes to an end after two days. The status of claim jumpers and other issues have been solved, and from this point forward the two leagues will work together.
1918 The A’s trade first baseman Stuffy McInnis to Boston for Larry Gardner, Hick Cady and player to be named later Tillie Walker. Tillie Walker will become the first player to hit 100 homers for the A’s.
1918 19th-century star player Cap Anson picks his all-time team. He has no room for Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, or Eddie Collins. Instead, he puts Fred Pfeffer at second base, and George Gore, Hugh Duffy, and Jimmy Ryan in the outfield.
1920 Max Patkin’s baseball’s crown prince, is born.
1922 Washington trades outfielder Bing Miller to the A’s, where he’ll have a nice run for himself.
1922 The Red Sox trade shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh to Washington. There is actually a tie-in with this trade and the Bing Miller trade from the same day. The A’s sent Joe Dugan to Washington for Miller, and Washington flips Dugan to Boston here.
1928 The Giants trade Rogers Hornsby to the Braves, continuing the trend of teams getting rid of the great hitting, but prickly, Hornsby. He was a Cardinal in 1926, a Giant in 1927, will be a Braves in 1928, and then a Cub in 1929.
1936 The Cubs release Fred Lindstrom.
1937 Jim O’Toole, star Reds pitcher in the early-to-mid-1960s, is born.
1940 Brooklyn signs free agent pitcher Wes Ferrell, who is winding down his career.
1952 Bones Ely, a terrific 19th-century defensive shortstop, dies at age 88.
1957 Commissioner Ford Frick rules that celebrity singer Bing Crosby, who is part-owner of the Pirates, can keep his token stock in the Tigers.
1959 Richard Dotson, 20-game winner in 1983 for the White Sox, is born.
1973 In an amateur draft, the Rangers select Jim Sundberg, the Cubs pick Donnie Moore, and Oakland claims pitcher Mike Norris. All of them will sign with those teams.
1976 Longtime second baseman Adam Kennedy is born.
1978 In the January draft, the Mets claim Tony Phillips, Minnesota claims Jesse Orosco, and the Cardinals pick Gary Gaetti. Phillips and Orosco sign with their teams, but Gaetti won’t.
1980 Hughie Critz, one of the best defensive players of the 1920s and '30s, dies at age 79. He played second base for the Reds and Giants. He also led the NL in at-bats in 1932 with 659.
1983 The New York state supreme court issues an injunction to prevent the Yankees from having their season opener versus the Tigers in Denver.
1991 Baltimore makes a terrible trade, sending Curt Schilling, Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch to the Astros for slugging first baseman Glenn Davis. I remember thinking at the timethis was a really good trade because you’d finally get Davis’ bat outside of the Astrodome. It turns out he was through, and all three guys sent to Houston did more individually than Davis did from here on out.
1991 Baltimore trades Mickey Tettleton to Detroit for Jeff Robinson. Man, oh man, Jan. 10, 1991, just sucked and kept sucking for the Orioles.
1991 The Phillies sign free agent/lunatic Wally Backman.
1992 The Yankees trade Steve Sax to the White Sox for Melido Perez, Bob Wickman, and a third player.
1994 Former NL president Chub Feeney dies of a heart attack at age 72.
1995 Arbitrator Thomas Roberts awards 11 players $9,708,756 due to collusion.
1996 Joe Schultz, manager of the 1969 Seattle Pilots, dies at age 77.
1997 Phil Marchildon, 1940s A’s pitcher with control problems, dies at age 83. Twice he led the league in wild pitches, twice in walks (among five different 100-walk seasons) and once in losses. He also went 19-9 for the club in 1947.
2000 Seattle signs free agent pitcher Aaron Sele.
2003 Boston signs free agent third baseman Bill Mueller.
2006 The Cubs sign free agent leftfielder Jacque Jones to a three-year contract.
2006 The Dodgers hire Hall of Famer Eddie Murray as their hitting coach.
2010 San Francisco signs Aubrey Huff as a free agent.
2011 Cincinnati signs veteran shortstop Edgar Renteria.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.