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Willie McCovey's 1956 season

Willie McCovey spent his second year of professional baseball with Danville in the Carolina League after being signed by the New York Giants in 1955.

McCovey led the Georgia State League in double plays by a first baseman with 73 in 1955 while hitting .305 with 19 homers and a league-leading 113 RBIs.

He was assigned to the then-Class B Carolina League for the 1956 season, where he continued to show the power that eventually made him a Hall of Famer. With the Danville Leafs, McCovey batted .310 (fourth best in the loop), with 29 homers and 89 RBIs. Curt Flood, who made his own mark in baseball by challenging the reserve clause, led the Carolina League in batting that year with a .340 average for High Point-Thomasville.

The Leafs finished third in the regular season, but McCovey, along with slugging teammate Leon "Daddy Wags" Wagner, led the Leafs to a first-round playoff win over the Durham Bulls. McCovey hit a three-run homer in the series opener and two solo shots in the series-clinching fourth game. Wagner, who slugged 51 homers during the regular season -- four short of the league record -- had six RBIs in game three of the playoff series.

That year's regular season fourth-place finisher, Fayetteville, won the Championship Series four games to two despite McCovey's three home runs in the series.

The slugging first baseman spent the 1957 season with Dallas in the Texas League, and then 1958 and part of the 1959 season with Phoenix in the Pacific Coast League.

After joining the Giants in 1959, McCovey was named the National League Rookie of the Year, but his performance suffered in 1960 and he was sent back down to Tacoma of the PCL.

He was named by The Sporting News as Major League Player of the Year in 1969, the same year he was named National League MVP.

He was traded to the San Diego Padres in 1974, then went to the Oakland Athletics in 1976, before finishing his career back where he started, with the Giants (1977-1980).

McCovey had a career batting average of .270 in 8,197 at bats over a span of 2,588 games. He tied Ted Williams on the all-time home run list with 521 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986.