Bonds set to join S.F. legends

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

SAN FRANCISCO -- He didn't start out to have a cove named after him.

Just as he did not start out playing baseball in Mobile, Ala. with the goal of being inducted into Cooperstown.

Barry Bonds, soon to be the king of swing, you know about.

Willie Mays, likely the best living player, you know about.

Do all you kiddies know about former Giants first baseman Willie McCovey?

McCovey used to deposit home runs into the swimming pool beyond the right field fence of Montreal's Jarry Park. Life guards had to watch for toddlers going under and incoming baseballs.

Swimmers had their head up when McCovey, nicknamed Stretch, strode toward the plate.

The left-handed slugger, along with Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Willie Stargell, also plopped balls into the pool.

"I always heard more people went into the water when I came up" laughed McCovey, seated in the Giants clubhouse before last night's game.

"I always hit well in Montreal, I think I hit my last home run in Montreal."

He's now 69 and walks with the aid of two canes. But he's in a hurry now as he's off to tape an interview for the New York Yankees' YES Network. The Yanks come to San Francisco June 22-24.

It will be a re-enactment of the 1962 World Series in which the Yankees won Game 7, 1-0 on Ralph Terry's four hitter.

There is a picture at the back of the press box at AT@T Park. Standing are Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry. Seated are McCovey and Mays. Hall of Famers one and all.

Mays, McCovey and Cepeda combined for 1,560 homers and 4,823 runs batted in.

Marichal and Perry combined to win 557 games while striking out 5,837 hitters.

They didn't hit all the home runs or win all the games wearing San Francisco black and orange, but they are considered Giants.

Bonds went into last night's game against starter A.J. Burnett of the Blue Jays with 747 homers. Mays hit 660 while McCovey had 521.

The cove, appropriately nicknamed after McCovey and his ability to put the ball in the water, will be busy as Bonds approaches his 756th homer to pass Henry Aaron.

Especially with an auction house already offering $1 million US for the ball. There will be the usual kayaks, sailboats, canoes, rowboats, rubber rafts, surfboards and fans paddling on inner tubes in an effort to retrieve the historic ball.

Water dominated the 1962 Series, with five days off between Game 5 and Game 6 due to rain.

Terry was in control going into the bottom of the ninth, guarding a 1-0 lead at Candlestick Park. The Yanks had scored their only run when Tony Kubek hit into a double play with none out and the bases loaded.

But a great man once said 'It's never over until it's over.'

Matty Alou singled to open the bottom of the ninth. Terry struck out Felipe Alou and Chuck Hiller.

With two out, Mays doubled to right and it appeared that the Giants would score the tying run. Watching the game on TV with my father, he said the third base coach should have waved him home and had made a terrible mistake.

"No problem," I said, McCovey was next.

McCovey hit a Terry pitch as hard as humanly possible. If he hits 10 like that he winds up with nine hits

The bad part was it was right at second baseman Bobby Richardson.

It was the first time a 13-year-old had ever seen his father cry. So near and yet so far.

Years later I told that story to a most wonderful baseball man with the Florida Marlins. His name was Whitey Lockman.

"Did you know who coached third for the Giants?" Whitey asked. I shook my head no.

"It was me," he said, "but don't feel bad about it -- you're not the first person to mention I should have sent him."


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