We dubbed him "Stretch" and never was a nickname more of an understatement. Willie McCovey didn't just stretch above the players of his time. He towered over them. And he looked down upon the world with a smile of genuine humility over his lofty baseball deeds. With his awesome swing, McCovey would clout massive numbers of massive homers, 521 in all. And his inspirational play in a career that stretched for four decades would result in the establishment of the annual Willie Mac Award, chosen by fellow teammates, the highest honor a Giants player can receive.
The larger-than-life image of this living legend has been carved in bronze and placed as the centerpiece of McCovey Point at China Basin Park, keeping watch over McCovey Cove. China Basin Park is now be a popular pre- and post-game gathering spot for Giants fans young and old. Families can picnic along the shores of McCovey Cove, play a game of catch on the green or stroll along the Giants History Walk while enjoying breathtaking views of AT&T Park and the Bay. Visible from inside the ballpark, the McCovey statue is uplit at night, shining like a beacon into the present from the Giants' treasured seasons of the past.
The Giants aren't finished building ballparks.
On the plot of land south of the McCovey statue, Barry Bonds Junior Giants Field has been fashioned into the landscape, dedicated to the tiniest of ballplayers on up. A signature field of the Junior Giants baseball program, the T-ball park is abuzz with casual play before Giants games, while batting practice is happening in the ballpark across McCovey Cove. Similar to AT&T Park, home runs could actually land in the Bay. Those who once were kids, but never grew up, might find it difficult to resist the temptation to step up to the tee and swat one into the blue.
Willie Mays. Bill Rigney. Orlando Cepeda. Mike McCormick. Tom Haller. Tito Fuentes.
The very mention of their names conjures images of them in their prime. Their batting stance, the way they ran and fielded and threw. The way they pitched.
Juan Marichal. Jose Pagan. Darrell Evans. Gaylord Perry. Chris Speier. Bobby Bonds. Vida Blue.
Together, these 1500-plus players trimmed in orange-and-black forged a special union between themselves and their fans in the course of 42 seasons at Seals Stadium and Candlestick Park.
Robby Thompson. Will Clark. Jose Uribe. Mike Krukow. Duane Kuiper. Dave Dravecky.
Recognition of the players and teams of San Francisco Giants' seasons past is the unifying element of China Basin Park. At regular intervals on the seat wall along the northern border of the park, markers have been positioned representing every San Francisco Giants team prior to the move to AT&T Park. Each marker contains the scroll of the team's roster and statistical highlights from that season.
It used to be an unsightly stretch of weeds and concrete along the shoreline directly across McCovey Cove from AT&T Park. Now, however, this strip of land has been transformed into China Basin Park, a magnificent public open space with dramatic vistas, picnic areas and even a small baseball diamond. China Basin Park also links the past with the future, dramatically celebrating the history of Giants baseball in San Francisco.
A beautiful statue of Willie McCovey, perhaps the most beloved San Francisco Giants player of all, stands majestically at the northeastern portion of the park, McCovey Point. The statue rests at the mouth of the now famous McCovey Cove, visible from within AT&T Park and greeting the throng of ferries, boats, canoes and rafts that make the Cove home on game days. In the shadow of McCovey's monument, Junior Giants sluggers take aim at the short right-field fence of Barry Bonds Junior Giants Field hoping to put one in the picnic area beyond, or even into the Bay!
Along the shoreline, from the McCovey statue to the Lefty O'Doul Bridge, fans are treated to a walk through Giants history. The walkway features historic markers representing every Giants team from 1958 through 1999. The markers are incorporated into a 570-foot long seat wall and depict the names of players that wore the Giants uniform by year throughout this era, along with special moments and achievements of each team.