This is Willie McCovey. It’s a statue; it’s not Stretch himself.
In the sixties and seventies, Willie was one of the best hitters in baseball. Spending most of his time at first base for the San Francisco Giants, he earned his paycheck by making pitcher’s knees buckle from sixty feet and six inches away in the lefty batter’s box. When Stretch came up to bat, Giants fans would all shift over toward the right field deck at Candlestick Park with hopes of catching a souvenir – a shift defensive players could have benefitted from too if that defensive mindset hadn’t been forty years before it’s time.
Willie never played on the field backing up to China Basin, feeding Mission Creek and then San Francisco Bay – but his namesake cove, built and named twenty years after his retirement – is now a paddler’s monopoly on blasted home run souvenirs.