Willie McCovey Hits First Home August 2, 1959
Willie McCovey hit his first Major League home run on August 2, 1959.
Unlike like his teammate and San Francisco Giants slugging partner, Willie Mays, who was hitless in his first 12 major league at-bats; the other Willie (some other!), Willie McCovey, let the baseball world know from the gitgo that “The New Willie” was anything but, just another Willie.
McCovey made his Major League debut on July 30, facing Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher, Robin Roberts. The 21-year-old McCovey was so intimidated by Roberts that he went four for four, hitting two singles and two triples. On day-one he racked up eight total bases. He would go on to collect another 4,211 total bases to go along with his 521 home runs and 1.550 RBIs, before ending his career in 1980; a career that spanned four decades.
On his second day in the Majors the Giants played the Pirates, and McCovey gave pitcher Harvey Haddix a break, only managing a single in four at bats. On August 1, Giants manager Bill Rigney batted his new phenom third, between Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda. McCovey did not disappoint. He hit a first inning double off of Red Witt and scored on Cepeda’s single. It was déjà vous for Witt in the third inning, another McCovey double and another Cepeda single knocking him in. Then the Giants brought in Bennie Daniels who was able to strike out McCovey in the fourth. Daniels pitched three scoreless innings, but in the seventh McCovey touched him up for a single. Then Cepeda also singled, moving McCovey to second. At that point Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh decided to bring in Roy Face to pitch to Willie Kirkland (Yes, another Willie. The Giants had three). Kirkland singled and McCovey scored. Before the inning ended the Giants had four more runs.
McCovey didn’t homer unitl his fourth game, but in the three games leading up to it he was 8-13 (.615) and had 14 total bases, giving him a slugging average of 1.077. In the game when McCovey hit his first homer, it was his only hit in five at bats.
He played in a total of 52 games during the 1959 and wound up with an average of .354. He also hit 13 home runs, had 38 RBIs and was named National League Rookie of the Year.
McCovey never hit for average like that again, although he was National League MVP in 1969 when he hit .320, belted 45 home runs and knocked in 126 RBIs. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986, his first year of eligibility.