Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti, who grew up in San Jose rooting for the Giants, summarized the enduring significance of McCovey and fellow franchise legend Willie Mays. Both former sluggers continue to attend nearly every home game.
"Any time we don't see either Mac or Mays for a while, we wonder what's going on and are they doing OK. That's just a general feeling you always get because you're so used to seeing them," Righetti said. "Hopefully everything's going OK [for McCovey] and it's just a minor setback. They're icons. They're the symbols of the San Francisco Giants and always will be. Those guys are the pillars. Anytime they're not doing well, we're not doing well."
McCovey, 76, retired during the 1980 season with 521 career home runs, which at that juncture tied him for eighth all-time with Ted Williams. McCovey's total of 18 grand slams remains a National League record.
Fans intending to send get-well messages to McCovey can do so via email to email@example.com or via mail to Willie McCovey c/o San Francisco Giants, San Francisco, CA, 94107.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.