As the nation endures a transformative shift in its social construct, many statues that have been celebrations of historical figures with a dark past are tumbling around stadiums, town squares, and wherever they have stood for years. So you can imagine the shock and confusion when the San Francisco Giants players reported to their first day of practice at Oracle Park recently and discovered the Willie McCovey statue was no longer there.
Opening of Oracle Park
On April 11, 2000, Oracle Park opened along the San Francisco Bay. The San Francisco Giants have played in the stadium since it opened and won three World Series championships in 2010, 2012, and 2014. The stadium is located on a stretch of the bay named McCovey Cove, which is named after the legendary Giants first baseman who died in 2018.
In addition to the Giants baseball team, the stadium has also been home to numerous college football games including the Redbox Bowl from 2002-2013. It also was a temporary home for the University of California football team in 2011.
Professionally, the venue has also served as the home stadium for the San Francisco Demons of the XFL and the California Redwoods of the United Football League.
Willie McCovey statue added in 2003
Willie McCovey is a San Francisco Giants legend. The Hall of Famer played 19 of his 22 MLB years with the Giants where he won Rookie of the Year, made seven All-Star appearances, and earned one NL MVP in 1969.
McCovey, who was known as Stretch, was one of the most-feared left-handed hitters in all of baseball. He was ranked only second to Babe Ruth in career home runs by a left-handed batter when he retired in 1980. McCovey is currently ranked 20th on the career all-time home run list. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
In addition to the cove, in 2003 the Giants honored their legendary first baseman by adding a statue outside of Oracle Park on a piece of property across the cove referred to as McCovey Point. The Willie McCovey statue features the slugger swinging after connecting on one of his 521 home runs.
Why was the Willie McCovey statue removed?
The Willie McCovey statue has been a big part of the overall Oracle Park experience for fans and visitors since its debut in 2003. When players recently arrived for practice at the stadium they were shocked to discover the statue was no longer there. It had been removed.
While on first thought you might question if the McCovey statue somehow got swept up in the movement of statues being removed around the nation, there is no connection. The Willie McCovey statue was removed and put away in storage as a precautionary measure to protect it.
The waterfront area where the statue was located is about to undergo a large construction project. The first phase of the project includes four large buildings, including two 23-story residential towers, and a five-acre waterfront park. The projected completion date is scheduled for the end of 2022.
Unfortunately, that means any fans who had hoped to visit the park and get a picture of the statue featuring the Hall of Famer will have to wait until around opening day in 2023. The Giants organization said the statue is expected to return to approximately the same spot.