Rodon Not the First Giants All-Star Game Snub – Willie Mac Denied a Spot 45 Years Ago

Legendary San Francisco Giants first baseman Willie McCovey did not get selected for the 1977 All Star Game in Yankee Stadium but had no hard feelings saying that other first basemen in the National League did as well or better than him. (photo from the MLB Hall of Fame)

By Tony The Tiger Hayes

SAN FRANCISCO–This week, Ashley Rodon did her best Tammy Wynette impression when the wife of Giants ace Carlos Rodon expressed shock and disbelief that her left-handed hubby was left off the National League All-Star team.

Mrs. Rodon’s “Stand by your Man” moment came on Twitter when she expressed her repudiation by thumbing the following golden nugget after the final All-Star rosters were released.

“Are you actually kidding…. 😂 Man leads the NL in WAR. Wtf,” Ashley Rodon wrote on Twitter.

Rodon has since been added to the NL roster as an injury replacement for Milwaukee’s Josh Hader.

An analytical dreamboat, Rodon – was on the AL All-Star team in 2021 as a member of the Chicago White Sox member – has been one of baseball’s most dominating pitching talents in 2022.

Besides WAR, Carlos Rodon’s 31 percent strikeout rate is second-best among NL starters and fifth-best in all of baseball. His 2.13 FIP is the lowest among National League starters, and his .202 opponents’ batting average is the fifth-lowest in the NL.

For you old schoolers, Rodon also had an 8-5 record and 2.70 ERA.

Though the most blatantly over looked pitcher this year, Rodon was not the only star hurler denied an All -Star nod.

Other tough-luck pitchers this season include White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease (2.45 ERA, 131 strikeouts), Seattle’s Logan Gilbert (10-3, 2.80 ERA) and Toronto’s ex-Giant Kevin Gausman (2.86 ERA).

On the offensive side, slugging Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley (.282, 23, 56), the Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (.303, 11, 54), and Cincinnati third baseman Brandon Drury (.277, 18, 50) will also be sitting out the Mid-Summer Classic to be held at Dodger Stadium next week.

Of course this story is one that repeats it self like bell pepper every summer about this time.

Every season seemingly shoo-in candidates are left off All-Star rosters for varied reasons, including lack of roster space and the fact that every team must be represented.

Historically, the Giants have had their share of overlooked potential All-Stars.

One of the most notorious slighted players was Pablo Sandoval in 2009. The Kung-Fu Panda, in his first full season in the majors, was batting .333, with 14 homers and 35 RBI at the All-Star break that season but was passed over for a spot on the squad.

But arguably the most egregious All-Star Game omission in San Francisco history came in 1977 when a revitalized Willie McCovey was not chosen to represent the Giants in the All-Star Game played at the remodeled Yankee Stadium.

After playing the previous three seasons with San Diego and Oakland, the Hall of Fame slugger made a triumphant return to the the Orange & Black.

Mac had batted a combined . 204, 7, 36 for the Padres and A’s in 1976, and was no lock to make the Giants roster when he came to the San Francisco spring training camp in 1977.

But not only did the 38-year-old McCovey make the club, the long time Golden Gate treasure was the Giants top player.

McCovey scalded the ball the first half of the season and was batting a .284, with 14 homers and 36 RBI.

Among his exploits during the first half of the ‘77 season were a two home run performance (including a grand slam) in the same inning of a 14-9 win at Cincinnati (6/27/77).

McCovey also helped revive a long dormant Giants fan base, bringing back into the Orange & Black fold young adults who grew up rooting for the charismatic 1969 NL MVP and a new crew of young Giants fans.

It would have done wonders for the Giants had Mac received some national love on the All-Star broadcast.

After breaking in with an unforgettable 4-for-4 debut vs. Hall of Fame hurler Robin Roberts 1959 debut vs. Philadelphia at Seals Stadium McCovey quickly became a Giants fan favorite.

Mac helped lead the Giants to their first west coast NL pennant in 1962 and nearly knocked in the winning run of Game 7 of the World Series. Alas, McCovey’s fierce line drive was snared by New York’s Bobby Richardson, with two out in the ninth inning to end the series.

McCovey led the Senior Circuit in home runs in 1963 and 1968-69.

McCovey was also an All-Star Game mainstay during the prime of his 21-year career. Mac was the NL starting first baseman in 1966 and 1968-69. He also appeared in the 1963, and 1970-71 All-Star Games.

McCovey was voted unanimous MVP of the 1969 Mid -Summer Classic when he walloped a pair of home runs and collected three RBIs in the NL’s 9-3 win at Washington.

Because of his late addition to the Giants roster, McCovey’s wasn’t even listed on the ‘77 Gillette All-Star Game ballot. Though loyal Giants fans made a great effort to vote Mac in as a write in candidate, the Dodgers Steve Garvey ran away with the first base vote.

National League manager Sparky Anderson had an opportunity to bring McCovey’s inspirational comeback to a national audience, but he choose not to add McCovey to the NL all-star squad as a first base back-up, going with Atlanta’s first baseman Willie Montanez as the Braves only representative.

Had MLB reserved a spot on the All-Star roster for a popular aging veteran, like they began doing this season, McCovey most likely would have appeared in the ‘77 game.

San Francisco’s only All-Star representative in ‘77 was left-handed reliever Gary Lavelle. While Lavelle was certainly deserving of the honor – 6-4, 1.41, 11 saves – McCovey was also more than worthy.

Not only for his stellar performance that season but also as an honor for his career accomplishments.

Naturally McCovey, arguably the most humble and approachable superstar athletes in Bay Area history took the snub in stride.

“I’m leaving an open mind to it. I don’t care if you’re going for the first time or the seventh, it’s a big honor to make the team. I would have been tickled to go,” the 18-year big leaguer said at the time.

But McCovey knew there was only so much space on each team and didn’t want any special privileges handed to him based on popularity.

“There are also some other first baseman with better stats than me that didn’t make it,” McCovey said. “So why should I.”

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