Willie Dean McGee (born November 2, 1958) is a retired professional baseball player who won two batting titles and was named Major League Baseball's 1985 National League MVP. McGee primarily played center and right field, winning three Gold Glove Awards for defensive excellence. McGee spent the majority of his 18-year career playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, helping the Cardinals win the 1982 World Series with his outstanding performance in Game 3 of that series. A four-time All-Star, McGee accumulated 2,254 hits during his career.
McGee with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1983
|St. Louis Cardinals – No. 51|
|Born: November 2, 1958|
San Francisco, California
|May 10, 1982, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 3, 1999, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||856|
|Career highlights and awards|
Willie Dean McGee, one of seven children, grew up in a devoutly religious household. His father Hurdice was both a machinist at the Oakland Naval Yards and a deacon in the Pentecostal church. Hurdice did not want his son to play any organized sports on Sundays, so McGee slipped out of the house on Sunday afternoons to pursue his passion for sports. Much later, McGee learned that his father knew that he was sneaking out to play baseball but decided to let him go on anyway.
Upon graduating from Harry Ells High School in Richmond, California in 1976, McGee was selected in the 7th round (152nd overall) of the June amateur entry draft by the Chicago White Sox. McGee declined the White Sox contract offer and opted instead to attend Diablo Valley Community College. A few months later, McGee was selected by the New York Yankees in the 1st round (15th overall) of the 1977 January amateur entry draft. From 1977 through 1981, McGee remained tucked away in the Yankees' minor league farm system, ascending no higher than the AA level during that time.
McGee's big break came when he was acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Yankees' farm system on October 21, 1981, in a trade for pitcher Bob Sykes. In 1982, he was briefly assigned to the AAA Louisville Redbirds prior to being called up to St. Louis. In his rookie year, McGee batted .296, with 4 home runs and 56 runs batted in during the regular season.
In the 1982 postseason, the 23-year-old McGee was quickly thrown into the national spotlight during St. Louis' run to a World Series title. His performance in Game 3 of the 1982 World Series ranks among the best in Series history. Not known for his power, McGee connected for two home runs and also delivered a spectacular defensive play in center field, capped by a leaping snare of a would-be 9th-inning Gorman Thomas home run that secured the Cardinals 6–2 victory. McGee became the third rookie to hit two home runs in a World Series game, joining two New York Yankees: Charlie Keller and one of the announcers for the 1982 Series, Tony Kubek. (Andruw Jones joined them in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series, and Michael Conforto joined them in Game 4 of the 2015 World Series.) McGee was an integral part of the Cardinals' unlikely Series win over the power-hitting Milwaukee Brewers, who were nicknamed "Harvey's Wallbangers" after team manager Harvey Kuenn.
During the 1980s, McGee, along with Cardinals teammates Ozzie Smith, Tom Herr, and Vince Coleman, exemplifed "Whiteyball", a style of baseball named after Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog. This style of baseball took advantage of St. Louis' spacious Busch Stadium and placed strong emphasis on fundamentals, pitching, defense, speedy baserunning, and smart situational in-game play.
McGee hit for the cycle on June 23, 1984, in a classic Cardinals vs. Cubs matchup at Wrigley Field. The game was televised as NBC's Game of the Week. As the Cards led going into the bottom of the 9th, McGee was announced as NBC's "Player of the Game." After Chicago's Ryne Sandberg hit two home runs—in the ninth and tenth innings, propelling the Cubs to a 12–11 victory—NBC reported that McGee and Sandberg would share the honor.
In 1985, McGee ranked first in the National League in batting average (.353, which is the second highest mark by a switch hitter in NL history), hits (216), and triples (18). He also ranked third in the National League in runs scored (114) and stolen bases (56). Additionally, he earned a Gold Glove Award and a Silver Slugger Award and was voted to the National League All-Star team. For his superb offensive and defensive performance, McGee was named the 1985 NL Most Valuable Player. His .353 batting average was the highest for a National League player since Bill Madlock hit .354 ten years earlier; between 1975 and 1993, McGee's .354 average also was second only to Tony Gywnn's 1987 NL average (.370). McGee's efforts helped propel the Cardinals into the postseason, where St. Louis defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Championship Series. However, St. Louis came up short in the 1985 World Series, as the Kansas City Royals defeated the Cardinals in seven games. The Series was known as the "I-70 Series," named after Interstate 70, the highway that connects St. Louis to Kansas City.
In 1987, Cardinals manager Herzog moved McGee to 5th in the batting order. McGee responded well to the move and drove in a career-high 105 runs. Again, McGee was a key component to the Cardinals' success as they enjoyed another fine season finishing as Eastern Division champs. After defeating the San Francisco Giants in a heated NL Championship Series, Herzog's Cardinals found themselves in their third World Series contest of the 1980s; the Minnesota Twins defeated the Cardinals in the 1987 World Series in seven games. McGee himself made the last out of the seventh game of the series, grounding out to third base.
1990 would mark the end of the "Whiteyball" era in St. Louis. Amidst poor overall team performance, Herzog surprisingly announced his retirement on July 6. In an effort to begin the team's re-building process, McGee was traded to the American League's Oakland Athletics on August 29 for 25-year-old outfielder Félix José and two minor-league players (third baseman Stan Royer and pitcher Daryl Green). McGee's brief stint with Oakland, managed by Tony La Russa, helped propel the team to the 1990 World Series. This would be McGee's fourth trip to the Fall Classic; the Athletics, however, were pounded in the Series as the Cincinnati Reds would sweep the defending champions in four games. Despite being traded to the AL, McGee had already accumulated 542 plate appearances in the National League, enough for him to qualify for the NL batting crown. Los Angeles' Eddie Murray (.330 average), the New York Mets' Dave Magadan (.328) and others gave chase. However, because no batter was able to catch McGee's .335 NL batting mark, he won his second batting title. McGee's accomplishment marked an odd first in major league history, in which the batting champion for one league ended the season as a member of the other league. In 1990, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals led the American league with a .329 batting average. Because McGee's batting average over the entire season was only .324, neither league's batting champion led the Major Leagues in batting; that honor fell to Eddie Murray.
On December 3, 1990, McGee signed a multi-year contract with the San Francisco Giants. This decision allowed him to continue his professional career in the area in which he was born, raised, and resided with his family. With the Giants, he remained a consistent and productive player, batting near or above .300 each year until an ankle injury befell him in 1994.
Attempting to rebound from injury, McGee signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox on June 6, 1995, and played in only 67 games that season. McGee had one hit in four at-bats in the Cleveland Indians' Division Series sweep of Boston.
On December 15, 1995, McGee signed as a free agent and returned to St. Louis for good. Coincidentally, he was reunited with former Oakland manager Tony La Russa, who had just inked a multi-year deal on October 23 to become St. Louis' new skipper. One of the lighter moments of the 1996 season came in the form of a commercial that McGee recorded with Ozzie Smith. As part of the team's "Baseball like it oughta be" ad campaign, Smith and McGee—under the aliases of "Henry Smith" and "Walter McGee" respectively—partially ad-libbed several TV spots dressed as two old men sitting in a bar talking about the Cardinals. Shocked that the shy McGee would do such an outrageous thing, teammates were enthralled by watching outtakes from the TV spots, some of which can be seen on a commemorative video about the Cardinals' 1996 season.
An aged veteran at this point in his career, McGee's role as outfielder became limited, and he averaged about 300 at bats a year. Despite his limited role, he found his stroke again with St. Louis. He batted .307 and .300 in 1996 and 1997, respectively, and he provided fans with dramatic offensive sparks that recalled his earlier years. In St. Louis' 1997 home opener at Busch Memorial Stadium, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the score tied 1–1, McGee hit a pinch-hit home run to win the game, which provided a memorable highlight to cap his remarkable career with the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 5, 1999, Willie made a brilliant shoestring catch on a looping fly ball hit by San Diego Padres' outfielder, Tony Gwynn. Had McGee not caught that ball, Gwynn would have recorded his 3,000th major league hit. In that same game, St. Louis Cardinals' First baseman, Mark McGwire hit his 500th major league home run.
McGee was the inspiration for the song “#51” by the now defunct St. Louis rock band Zephyr. The song’s chorus used catchy guitar rhythms to praise McGee for his ability to drive home runners in scoring position.
McGee had a .976 career fielding % and from 1983 to 1990 finished in the top 5 among NL outfielders in the category of Range Factor/Game as OF. In 1986, McGee led the NL in Fielding % as OF (.991), Range Factor/Game as OF (2.76), and Putouts as CF (325).
The season after his retirement as player, McGee was honored with a special ceremony at Busch Memorial Stadium. There has been some support among fans for a formal retirement of McGee's number 51 uniform number by the Cardinals.
On March 6, 2013, the St. Louis Cardinals announced they had hired McGee as a special assistant to General Manager John Mozeliak. McGee's role as special assistant included working with outfielders in the Cardinals' minor league system as well as monitoring the organization's minor league players.
On October 23, 2017, the Cardinals added McGee to their major league coaching staff. As of December 2017, McGee is listed on the Cardinals' roster as an assistant coach, with 51 as his uniform number. McGee's responsibilities with the Cards include outfielding, base running, and hitting.
|Awards and achievements|
| Hitting for the cycle
June 23, 1984
| National League Player of the Month
The 1982 National League Championship Series was played between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves from October 6 to 10.
Cardinals won their first pennant since 1968, not 1967 as stated.1982 St. Louis Cardinals season
The St. Louis Cardinals' 1982 season was the team's 101st season in St. Louis, Missouri and the 91st season in the National League. Making up for the previous season's near-miss, the Cardinals went 92—70 during the season and won their first-ever National League East Division title by three games over the Philadelphia Phillies. They achieved their first postseason appearance since 1968 and defeated the National League West champion Atlanta Braves in three straight games to claim the NL pennant. From there, they went on to win the World Series in seven games over the American League champion Milwaukee Brewers. It was the Cardinals' first World Championship since 1967, and their last until they opened the current Busch Stadium in 2006.1982 World Series
The 1982 World Series featured the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers, with the Cardinals winning in seven games.
The Cardinals had last been in the World Series in 1968, and a Milwaukee team, the Braves, in 1958. The Milwaukee team of 1982 started as an expansion team in Seattle in 1969, which then moved to Milwaukee in 1970 and changed their name to the Brewers.The Cardinals made it to the Series by winning the National League East division by three games over the Philadelphia Phillies, and then defeating the Atlanta Braves by 3 games to none in the National League Championship Series. The Brewers made it by winning the American League East division by one game over the Baltimore Orioles, and then defeating the California Angels by 3 games to 2 in the American League Championship Series.
With the Cardinals winning this series, the National League achieved four straight World Series championships from 1979 to 1982. The National League would not again achieve even back-to-back victories until the Giants won in 2010 and the Cardinals in 2011.
Though the teams had never met before, their home cities had an existing commercial rivalry in the beer market, as St. Louis is the home of Anheuser–Busch, which owned the Cardinals at the time, while Milwaukee is the home of Miller Brewing and other past major competitors of Anheuser–Busch. This led the media to refer to it as the "Suds Series."1983 St. Louis Cardinals season
The St. Louis Cardinals 1983 season was a season in American baseball. It was the team's 102nd season in St. Louis, Missouri and the 92nd season in the National League. The Cardinals went 79-83 during the season and finished 4th in the National League East, eleven games behind the NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies. They were the first team in the Divisional play era to have a losing season one year after winning the World Series.
First baseman Keith Hernandez, shortstop Ozzie Smith, and outfielder Willie McGee won Gold Gloves this year, although Hernandez was traded to the New York Mets in mid-season.1985 Major League Baseball season
The 1985 Major League Baseball season ended with the Kansas City Royals defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh game of the I-70 World Series. Bret Saberhagen, the regular season Cy Young Award winner, was named MVP of the Series. The National League won the All-Star Game for the second straight year.
The League Championship Series playoffs were expanded to a best-of-seven format beginning this year, and both leagues ended up settling their pennant winners in more than five games, with the Royals beating the Toronto Blue Jays in seven games, and the Cardinals beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.1985 St. Louis Cardinals season
The St. Louis Cardinals' 1985 season was the team's 104th season in St. Louis, Missouri and the 94th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 101-61 during the season and finished in first place in the National League East division by three games over the New York Mets. After defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in the NLCS, they lost in seven games in the World Series to their cross-state rivals, the Kansas City Royals in the I-70 Series. The World Series is known for the infamous "safe" call on the Royals' Jorge Orta by umpire Don Denkinger.
The Cardinals switched back to their traditional gray road uniforms for the first time in ten seasons.
Outfielder Willie McGee won the National League MVP Award this year, batting .353 with 10 home runs and 82 RBIs. Outfielder Vince Coleman won the National League Rookie of the Year Award this year, batting .267 with 107 runs scored and 110 stolen bases. Shortstop Ozzie Smith and McGee both won Gold Gloves this year.
During the 1985 playoffs, the Cardinals used the slogan The Heat Is On, in reference to the song that was released earlier that year.1986 St. Louis Cardinals season
The 1986 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 105th season in St. Louis, Missouri and its 95th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 79-82 during the season and finished 3rd in the National League East division.1990 Oakland Athletics season
The Oakland Athletics' 1990 season was their 23rd in Oakland, California. It was also the 90th season in franchise history. The team finished first in the American League West with a record of 103-59.
The Athletics' 1990 campaign ranks among the organization's finest. Oakland, in winning 103 games, led the league outright in wins for a third consecutive season; they remained the last major North American team to accomplish this until 2017, when the feat was matched by the nearby Golden State Warriors of the NBA. The Athletics benefited from stellar performances in all areas of the game. The team's offense was led by eventual Hall-of-Famer Rickey Henderson. Henderson finished the season with 65 stolen bases, 28 home runs, and a .325 batting average; for his efforts, he took home the 1990 American League MVP Award. The Athletics also benefited from strong performances by superstars Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. The pair clubbed 39 and 37 home runs, respectively; in doing so, they drove in a combined total of 209 runs. Over the course of the season, the team added to an already strong offense; the additions of recent All-Stars Willie Randolph, Willie McGee, and Harold Baines further widened the gap between the Athletics and the rest of the league. Established veterans (such as Carney Lansford, Terry Steinbach, Dave Henderson, and Mike Gallego) and promising young players (mainly Walt Weiss and Mike Bordick) rounded out arguably the deepest roster in all of Major League Baseball. Eight of the Athletics' nine main postseason starters (R. Henderson, McGwire, Canseco, McGee, Steinbach, Randolph, Baines, and Lansford) played in at least one All-Star Game between 1988 and 1990.
The Athletics pitching staff, in many regards, had an even stronger campaign. The starting rotation was led by veteran Bob Welch. Welch would finish the season with both an MLB-leading 27 wins and a 2.95 ERA; this performance was strong enough to net the 1990 Cy Young Award. Welch, as of 2014, remains the last MLB pitcher to win at least 25 games in a season. Fellow starter Dave Stewart, winner of 22 games, finished in a tie (with Pittsburgh starter Doug Drabek) for the second-most wins in MLB. 1989 All-Star Mike Moore, 1991 All-Star Scott Sanderson, and longtime Athletic Curt Young rounded out the American League's top rotation. The Athletics' bullpen was led by superstar closer Dennis Eckersley, who posted a microscopic 0.61 ERA while recording 48 saves. As a team, the Athletics allowed only 570 runs (the fewest in the American League by a wide margin).
The Athletics easily won the American League West for a third consecutive season. They swept the Boston Red Sox, four games to none, in that year's American League Championship Series; in doing so, they won a third consecutive American League pennant. The Athletics entered the 1990 World Series as heavy favorites. Despite this, however, they were themselves swept by the Cincinnati Reds. The Athletics have not reached the World Series since.1990 St. Louis Cardinals season
The 1990 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 109th season in St. Louis, Missouri and its 99th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 70-92 during the season and finished 6th (and last) in the National League East division, 25 games behind the NL East champion Pittsburgh Pirates. It was one of the few times that the Cardinals had finished in last place, and the first, and only time that it has happened since 1918.1991 San Francisco Giants season
The 1991 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 109th season in Major League Baseball, their 34th season in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their 32nd at Candlestick Park. The team finished in fourth place in the National League West with a 75-87 record, 19 games behind the Atlanta Braves.Alexander S. Heard
Alexander S. Heard is editorial director of Outside magazine and the author of Apocalypse Pretty Soon, a book about millennial subcultures in the United States. His book, The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South, about the 1951 execution of Willie McGee (convict), was published in 2010.
Prior to his work with Outside, he was the executive editor for Wired magazine. He has also edited and written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic,The Washington Post and Slate.
He is not related to G. Alexander Heard, who was chancellor of Vanderbilt University. Heard is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and attended during Chancellor Heard's tenure.Bob Sykes (baseball)
Robert Joseph Sykes (born December 11, 1954) is a retired Major League Baseball pitcher. He played during five seasons at the major league level for the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Sykes was drafted by the Tigers in the 19th round of the 1974 amateur draft. He played his first professional season with their Rookie league Bristol Tigers in 1974, and split his last season with the New York Yankees' Double-A Nashville Sounds and Triple-A Columbus Clippers in 1982 after being traded for Willie McGee on October 21, 1981.
Primarily a starter for most of his career, Sykes was moved to the bullpen for the majority of his final major league season with the Cardinals in 1981.Stan Royer
Stanley Dean Royer (born August 31, 1967 in Olney, Illinois) is a former third baseman/first baseman in Major League Baseball who played from 1991 through 1994 for the St. Louis Cardinals (1991–1994) and Boston Red Sox (1994). Listed at 6' 3", 195 lb., he batted and threw right-handed.
Drafted out of Charleston High School in Charleston, Illinois by the Atlanta Braves, Royer decided to not sign and attended college instead. Royer was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 1988 draft out of Eastern Illinois University, from where he had earned an economics degree. Before the 1991 season, he was sent by Oakland along with Félix José and a minor leaguer to the Cardinals in the same transaction that brought Willie McGee to the Athletics.
In a four-season career, Royer was a .250 hitter (41-for-164) with 21 RBI in 89 games, including four home runs, 10 doubles, and 14 runs scored. He also played in the Oakland, St. Louis and Boston minor league systems from 1988 to 1994, hitting .270 with 72 home runs and 417 RBI in 707 games.
Royer is President of Claris Advisors, an investment advising and wealth management firm based in St. Louis.Whiteyball
Whiteyball is a style of playing baseball that was developed by former Major League Baseball manager Whitey Herzog. The term was coined by the press during the 1982 World Series to describe the style of Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals. The team won the Series without a typical power hitter, instead using speed on the base paths, solid pitching, excellent defense, and line drive base hits. Whiteyball was well-suited to the fast, hard AstroTurf surface that Busch Memorial Stadium had at the time, which created large, unpredictable bounces when the ball hit it at sharp angles. In his book "White Rat", Herzog says the approach was a response to the spacious, artificial surface stadiums of the time. He said of the media's dismay at his teams' success:
They seemed to think there was something wrong with the way we played baseball, with speed and defense and line-drive hitters. They called it "Whitey-ball" and said it couldn't last.
Herzog used this strategy until he left the Cardinals in 1990.
A 2012 sports article described Whiteyball as follows:
"The '82 Series marked the start of Whiteyball, the Herzog style which stressed base running and pitching, though Herzog attributes that to the nature of Busch Stadium II, which didn't reward the long ball."Herzog used many switch-hitters such as Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Tom Herr, Terry Pendleton, Vince Coleman, José Oquendo, Garry Templeton, Ted Simmons, Luis Alicea, Mike Ramsey, Tony Scott, and Félix José in St. Louis, along with Willie Wilson and U L Washington when he managed in Kansas City. Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost used his own version of Whiteyball to get to the 2014 World Series.Willie McGee (American football)
Willie McGee is a former professional American football player who played wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and Detroit Lions.Willie McGee (Gaelic footballer)
William "Willie" McGee (born 1947) is an Irish retired Gaelic footballer. His league and championship career with the Mayo senior team spanned nine seasons from 1967 to 1976.McGee made his debut on the inter-county scene when he was selected for the Mayo minor team. A Connacht runner-up in this grade, he later won an All-Ireland medal with the Mayo under-21 team in 1967. McGee made his senior debut during the 1967-68 league. Over the course of the next nine seasons, he won one Conncaht medal and one National Football League medal. He played his last game for Mayo in March 1976.Willie McGee (convict)
Willie McGee (died May 8, 1951) was an African American man from Laurel, Mississippi, who was sentenced to death in 1945 and executed on Tuesday, May 8, 1951, for the capital crime of raping a young European-American married woman in the predawn hour on November 2, 1945.
McGee's legal case became a cause célèbre that attracted worldwide attention.Willie McGee (disambiguation)
Willie McGee (born 1958) is a retired baseball player.
Willie McGee may also refer to:
Willie McGee (convict) (died 1951), African American who was sentenced to death in 1945 for rape
Willie McGee (American football) (born 1950), former American football player
Willie McGee (Gaelic footballer) (born 1947), Irish Gaelic footballer