On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced that Willie McGee is formally re-joining the organization as a Special Assistant to the General Manager. No further information about his role was disclosed other than he will focus his attention on the minor leagues.
Very popular with fans from his playing days as a Cardinals outfielder, McGee, 54, spent time in Major League spring training camp last month, serving as a Special Instructor.
“We are pleased to announce Willie’s return to the Cardinals organization,” said Cardinals Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. “Willie has a wealth of experience in the game and he is eager to pass on his observations and teachings.”
McGee spent 18 years in the majors with St. Louis (1982-90, 1996-99), Oakland (1990), San Francisco (1991-94) and Boston (1995). The switch-hitting outfielder was a four-time All-Star, won three Gold Glove Awards and two batting titles. McGee compiled a .295 career batting mark with 79 home runs, 856 RBI and 352 stolen bases in 2,201 games played. He ranks among the Cardinals top-10 career leaders in games played (1,661), triples (83), stolen bases (301), and pinch-hits (59).
McGee was a sparkplug during the Cardinals 1982 World Championship season and earned his first batting title and was National League MVP while leading the club to the 1985 NL Championship.
McGee was not fully appreciated across the game, receiving just five percent of the vote for the Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2006, his support dropped to 2.3 percent. By not garnering at least five percent, the San Francisco native was removed from subsequent ballots.
However, McGee is beloved in St. Louis. His number 51 jersey has been kept out of distribution since 2001 out of respect. While his number is unlikely to be formally retired, the organization is planning a team Hall of Fame to be announced sometime after the planned 2014 opening of Ballpark Village. McGee could very well be among the initial honorees.
In the meantime, McGee will be assisting the Cardinals minor leaguers improve their game.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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