Willie "Pops" Stargell was a much-beloved Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder and first baseman who played from 1962-1982. He took over the mantle of leadership after Roberto Clemente's death in 1972. Willie won one MVP award (1979 - shared with Keith Hernandez) and could have won at least one more -- a strong case could be made for him in both 1971 and 1973. He had a lifetime .282 batting average with 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI.
Here are some highlights and memories of Willie Stargell:
- Don Sutton once said of Stargell, "I never saw anything like it. He doesn't just hit pitchers, he takes away their dignity."
- He had a unique way of waving his bat like a windmill before pitches.
- Stargell made the NL All Star team seven times: 1964-1966, 1971-1973, 1978)
- Willie was on two World Champion teams: 1971 and 1979
- Stargell is the only player to win the MVP of the league championship series, the world series, and the season (all in 1979)
- Voted to the Hall of Fame in 1988.
- Gave his teammates stars (called Stargell Stars) for their caps to commemorate good plays or good games. He started doing this in 1978.
- Several Baseball Digest articles about Willie: December 1969; September 1971; August 1973; December 1979.
- Some Sports Illustrated Articles: 12/24/79 (Sportsmen of the Year--Willie and Terry Bradshaw); 8/20/79; 8/2/71 (article about the Pirates -- Stargell is on the cover)
- Stargell died of complications from a stroke on April 9, 2001. It was the same day that a statue of him was unveiled at the opening of PNC Park in Pittsburgh. He had thrown the last pitch at Three Rivers Stadium in 2000 as part of the farewell ceremony.
- Liked to face: Gaylord Perry (.343 with 7 HR in 102 AB); Don Drysdale (.400 in 70 AB); Milt Pappas (.348 with 7 HR in 66 AB); Joe Niekro (.421 in 57 AB)
- Hated to face: Juan Marichal (.179 in 106 AB); Claude Osteen (.192 in 78 AB); Jim Bunning (.190 in 63 AB)