The Cardinals announced Monday not only the return of Jose Oquendo to the third base coaching position, but also appointed Cardinals’ Hall of Famer Willie McGee to a Major League coaching position as well. He had spent the last three seasons as an assistant to the general manager.
McGee’s promotion is one that is welcoming by all, as he has a special place in hearts of Cardinal Nation. He’s not in Cooperstown, he’s not a member of the 3,000 hit club, and his jersey number (#51) isn’t even retired in St. Louis. But you would be very hard-pressed to find any die-hard Cardinals’ fan who doesn’t know who McGee is.
"We feel that bringing the experience, past successes and baseball savvy that these three gentlemen possess to our Major League coaching staff will be a strong benefit to our ball club," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "Whether it's coaching, teaching, game analysis, game planning, etc., these three men bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team."
Bringing in someone like McGee, who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (the majority with the Cardinals), definitely plays into the “experience” and “past successes” category, as he was a key component of the “Whiteyball” teams of the 1980’s.
In Game 3 of the 1982 World Series, McGee not only hit two home-runs (something he was not known for) but he also robbed Gorman Thomas of a home run in the ninth inning. It was a performance instrumental in helping the Cardinals win the World Series in ‘82.
Three years later, McGee had his best season of his career, hitting .353, notching 216 hits and 18 triples. He was also in the top five in runs (116) and stolen bases (56). The crowning achievement came when he was named the 1985 NL MVP.
After time away from the Cardinals, McGee finished out his career with the team he was most famous with and in front of the crowd who adored him the most, retiring in 1998.
In 2014, McGee was voted in by the fans for enshrinement into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. It was the culmination of a career that was underrated by the sportswriters and overshadowed by the legends he himself was around.
Now, three years later, he’s back with the Major League team as a coach, ready to help the future of Cardinals baseball any way he can.
And the fans are pretty excited about it.