This Date in Baseball History – June 30

Willie McCovey

On June 30, 1978, at Fulton County Stadium, longtime San Francisco Giant slugger Willie McCovey reached the slugger’s promised land: 500 home runs.

In the back half of the 1960s, there were few sluggers as formidable as the tall first baseman from Mobile, Alabama – not even his teammate, Willie Mays. McCovey hit 226 of his 521 home runs in the six-season stretch from 1965 to 1970, matching the number of Hank Aaron in that span and generating a higher on-base percentage (.405 to Aaron’s .372) and slugging percentage (.578 to Aaron’s .557). McCovey led the league in slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging (OPS) three times during that stretch, and finished in the top five in home runs all five years, peaking with 45 in his National League MVP season in 1969, when he led the league in seven statistical categories.

By 1978, the 40-year-old McCovey was no longer the formidable slugger of his prime. He had just produced his last 20-home run season, driving 28 round-trippers for the Giants in 1977. He would go yard just five more times that season and 21 more times over the 211 games that followed his 500th. He retired at 42 in 1980, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame four years later – a first ballot selection, and the only player inducted that year.

Mick Gillispie told the story of McCovey’s 500th – and his relief at getting the milestone out of the way – during the sixth inning of Tennessee’s game with the Montgomery Biscuits on Monday.

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Categories: This Date in Baseball History


The Smokies Radio Network is the official radio network for the Chicago Cubs AA affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies. Daily broadcasts begin with the Pilot-Oscar Mayer pre-game show airing 15 minutes before every game. Following the game the broadcast concludes with the Edward Jones Investments post-game show. The Smokies Radio Network staff includes the Director of Broadcasting Mick Gillispie, Sr. Broadcast Assistant Greg Young, Broadcast Assistant Keith Brake and Broadcast Intern James Rowe.


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