Willie McCovey and Charlie Brown

Excerpts from Bruce Jenkins’ San Francisco Chronicle obituary:

Willie McCovey was the gentleman superstar, often described as a man without enemies.

McCovey, who died at the age of 80 on Wednesday afternoon, was among the classiest athletes ever to grace the Bay Area.

Humble and soft-spoken, always clearly grateful of the life he was able to live, he stepped to the plate and cast a giant shadow over the proceedings — particularly the opposing dugout. In the wake of his titanic, tape-measure shots, a number of pitchers figured the most clever strategy was to just deliver four balls and let him walk.

From 1969 through ’73, he led the league in intentional walks four times.

Giants lore is never complete without a most regrettable episode in the 1962 World Series. The Giants had finally made it, after many close-call seasons, and it came down to the climactic Game 7 against the Yankees at Candlestick Park. With two out, runners at second and third and the Yankees leading 1-0, many felt that manager Ralph Houk would walk McCovey and take his chances with Cepeda in a righty-righty matchup against pitcher Ralph Terry. Houk chose to pitch to McCovey, who hit a searing line drive directly into the glove of second baseman Bobby Richardson to end the Series.

McCovey could not have hit the ball any harder. Nor could the San Francisco fans have been any more heartbroken.

Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz two and a half months later (Saturday December 22, 1962).


A month after the above comic strip (Monday January 28, 1963).