McCovey’s a big fan of Pence, Panik

Friday, Oct. 31

SAN FRANCISCO — When Willie McCovey talks, you listen. And it’s always worth it.

McCovey, 76, sounded youthfully enthusiastic while sharing his impressions of the once-and-again World Series champions. “It’s amazing, the resilience this team had,” said the Giants legend, who attended Friday’s ceremonies honoring the club at City Hall.

Though McCovey gained fame for hitting 521 home runs, he appreciated the Giants’ ability to win without the longball. They hit just seven homers all postseason.

“They ran other teams into mistakes. It was fun to watch,” McCovey said. Consider, for example, the first two games of the National League Championship Series, when the Giants capitalized on St. Louis’ slipshod defense.

McCovey expressed deep appreciation for right fielder Hunter Pence’s spectrum of contributions.

“You’ve got a lot of good players who lead by example like (Buster) Posey, but, boy, it’s great to have a guy like Pence who does it on the field and can inspire the team in the clubhouse, too,” McCovey said. “You always hear, ‘We wouldn’t have won without him,’ but I think (because of) his inspiration, I don’t think the team would have won without him. He has been a godsend since he came over here.”

Pence wasn’t the only Giant who impressed McCovey.

“We got contributions from guys we didn’t know existed a month ago,” McCovey said, citing second baseman Joe Panik. McCovey embellished Panik’s sudden emergence only slightly; the rookie became a Giants regular in August. “He was amazing!” McCovey said. “He was a new ‘blockbuster.’ ”

“Blockbuster,” you might remember, was the nickname given to San Francisco’s previous World Series-winning second baseman, Marco Scutaro, who was tantamount to a blockbuster acquisition due to his prodigious production after joining the Giants from Colorado in July 2012.

— Chris Haft

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