It’s turning into a pretty packed week for President Obama, as he prepares to leave the Oval Office after eight busy years. A day after welcoming the 2016 World Series-winning Chicago Cubs to the White House, Obama inked up his pen to either commute or pardon the sentences of more than 250 individuals Tuesday, including baseball Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.
McCovey, 79, was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $5,000 in 1995 after pleading guilty to income tax fraud pertaining to a decision not to disclose $70,000 in extra income he earned from 1988 to 1990 at memorabilia and autograph shows. With the pardon, the record of McCovey, who teamed up with Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Duke Snider in the scheme, will appear clean as if the conviction never happened.
The equivalent sentence for Snider, who died in 2011, meanwhile, remains on the books.
McCovey did not immediately make a public comment after the White House released its 209 commutations and 64 pardons Tuesday, but fans of the San Francisco Giants legend rejoiced.
“Obama was the 44th president, and Willie McCovey wore [No.] 44. Coincidence?” wrote Grant Brisbee of Giants fan site the McCovey Chronicles on Tuesday. “Well . . . yeah, but that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a welcome gesture for one of baseball’s all-time greats. Thanks, Obama!”
McCovey, who spent 19 of his 22 seasons as a professional ballplayer with the Giants, hit 521 home runs over the course of his career. McCovey continues to work for the Giants today as an adviser and ambassador, while fans dubbed the body of water adjacent to San Francisco’s AT&T Park with the unofficial nickname McCovey Cove.
McCovey, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986, also played for the San Diego Padres and the Oakland Athletics.