Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Stretch

My first heroes outside my family were baseball players.  I began with Willie Mays, who seemed to be able to do everything.  But I also was great admirer of that other Willie, Willie McCovey.  Tall, handsome, tough, he was a great ballplayer. I had other baseball heroes too.  Who? Why Koufax and Drysdale of course.  In those days Seattle didn't have a major league baseball team, and as a ten year old, I didn't understand why I couldn't love players on the Giants and Dodgers at the same time.

Of course that all changed eventually.  In 1970 I moved to the Bay Area, the year after McCovey won the NL MVP award.  I got to see him play and it was pretty exciting though his skills were deteriorating by the time he was traded to the Padres 1974 he looked decrepit with bad knees.  It's hard to imagine he continued playing until 1980.

Did you know--Willie McCovey has a lifetime OPS+  of 147, the same as Edgar Martinez.  But in 1969, the year he won the MVP, Stretch had an OPS+ of 209!!!  Yikes.

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