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Monday, April 09, 2001

ESPN Classic - Stargell was Pirates’ inspirational leader in ‘70s

When I was a kid, I had my dad buy one of those plastic Pirate helmets because of Stargell. I’d mimic his antics in the batter’s box during Wiffle ball games. RIP, Pops.  :>(

The Original Gary Posted: April 09, 2001 at 07:50 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Bruce Markusen Posted: April 10, 2001 at 01:03 AM (#66648)
As someone who was a particularly big fan of Willie Stargell, it was a particularly emotional day for me at the Hall of Fame today. After Roberto Clemente, Stargell was my favorite player while growing up in the early 1970s. A few remembrances of "Big Willie:"

*The "windmilling" of the bat that Stargell went through during each at-bat made him one of the two most distinctive hitters to watch during the era of the sixties and seventies. The other was Joe Morgan, who flapped his right elbow like a chicken wing as he awaited each pitch.

*Stargell's long home runs--particularly two blasts that he belted completely out of Dodger Stadium--made me aware of the "tape-measure" home run. Mickey Mantle's long home runs in the 1950s originated the term, but Stargell's penchant for the 450-500 foot bat blast made it a popular phrase among baseball fans my age.

*Off the field, Willie became synonymous with the fight against Sickle Cell Anemia, a disease that affects African Americans exclusively. If if weren't for Stargell, I probably never would have heard of this insipid disease, which affected Pirate teammate Dock Ellis, among thousands of African Americans.

*In 1970, Stargell purchased a restaurant in the Hill section of Pittsburgh--a restaurant that became famous for its chicken. When Stargell hit a home run, Pirate announcer Bob Prince would announce that it was time to spread some "chicken on the hill."

*In 1973, Stargell led the major leagues in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and doubles, and should have won the National League's MVP Award. Instead, the award went to Pete Rose of the Reds.

*In 1974, manager Danny Murtaugh named Stargell the Pirates' captain. In effect, he succeeded Bill Mazeroski, who had been named Bucs captain in 1962 and held the position until his retirement in 1972.

*In the middle of the 1978 season, Stargell began awarding gold stars to teammates as rewards for "little things" that they did to contribute to victories. The "Stargell Stars" became a phenomenon during the 1979 season, when the Pirates captured the fascination of the country on their way to a surprising world championship.

*In 1998, I finally had the chance to meet Willie for the first time. Although he looked frail and his speech had been slowed by his already deteriorating condition, he was a captivating speaker who impressed a group of kids that saw him speak in the Hall of Fame's theater. Later that day, several staff members from the Hall were privileged to have lunch with him. His stories, his sense of humor, and his ability to relate to people he had just met made the day a memorable one.

*Thanks to Willie for providing so many great baseball memories.
   2. Bruce Markusen Posted: April 10, 2001 at 01:03 AM (#67105)
As someone who was a particularly big fan of Willie Stargell, it was a particularly emotional day for me at the Hall of Fame today. After Roberto Clemente, Stargell was my favorite player while growing up in the early 1970s. A few remembrances of "Big Willie:"

*The "windmilling" of the bat that Stargell went through during each at-bat made him one of the two most distinctive hitters to watch during the era of the sixties and seventies. The other was Joe Morgan, who flapped his right elbow like a chicken wing as he awaited each pitch.

*Stargell's long home runs--particularly two blasts that he belted completely out of Dodger Stadium--made me aware of the "tape-measure" home run. Mickey Mantle's long home runs in the 1950s originated the term, but Stargell's penchant for the 450-500 foot bat blast made it a popular phrase among baseball fans my age.

*Off the field, Willie became synonymous with the fight against Sickle Cell Anemia, a disease that affects African Americans exclusively. If if weren't for Stargell, I probably never would have heard of this insipid disease, which affected Pirate teammate Dock Ellis, among thousands of African Americans.

*In 1970, Stargell purchased a restaurant in the Hill section of Pittsburgh--a restaurant that became famous for its chicken. When Stargell hit a home run, Pirate announcer Bob Prince would announce that it was time to spread some "chicken on the hill."

*In 1973, Stargell led the major leagues in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and doubles, and should have won the National League's MVP Award. Instead, the award went to Pete Rose of the Reds.

*In 1974, manager Danny Murtaugh named Stargell the Pirates' captain. In effect, he succeeded Bill Mazeroski, who had been named Bucs captain in 1962 and held the position until his retirement in 1972.

*In the middle of the 1978 season, Stargell began awarding gold stars to teammates as rewards for "little things" that they did to contribute to victories. The "Stargell Stars" became a phenomenon during the 1979 season, when the Pirates captured the fascination of the country on their way to a surprising world championship.

*In 1998, I finally had the chance to meet Willie for the first time. Although he looked frail and his speech had been slowed by his already deteriorating condition, he was a captivating speaker who impressed a group of kids that saw him speak in the Hall of Fame's theater. Later that day, several staff members from the Hall were privileged to have lunch with him. His stories, his sense of humor, and his ability to relate to people he had just met made the day a memorable one.

*Thanks to Willie for providing so many great baseball memories.
   3. Bruce Markusen Posted: April 10, 2001 at 01:03 AM (#67891)
As someone who was a particularly big fan of Willie Stargell, it was a particularly emotional day for me at the Hall of Fame today. After Roberto Clemente, Stargell was my favorite player while growing up in the early 1970s. A few remembrances of "Big Willie:"

*The "windmilling" of the bat that Stargell went through during each at-bat made him one of the two most distinctive hitters to watch during the era of the sixties and seventies. The other was Joe Morgan, who flapped his right elbow like a chicken wing as he awaited each pitch.

*Stargell's long home runs--particularly two blasts that he belted completely out of Dodger Stadium--made me aware of the "tape-measure" home run. Mickey Mantle's long home runs in the 1950s originated the term, but Stargell's penchant for the 450-500 foot bat blast made it a popular phrase among baseball fans my age.

*Off the field, Willie became synonymous with the fight against Sickle Cell Anemia, a disease that affects African Americans exclusively. If if weren't for Stargell, I probably never would have heard of this insipid disease, which affected Pirate teammate Dock Ellis, among thousands of African Americans.

*In 1970, Stargell purchased a restaurant in the Hill section of Pittsburgh--a restaurant that became famous for its chicken. When Stargell hit a home run, Pirate announcer Bob Prince would announce that it was time to spread some "chicken on the hill."

*In 1973, Stargell led the major leagues in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and doubles, and should have won the National League's MVP Award. Instead, the award went to Pete Rose of the Reds.

*In 1974, manager Danny Murtaugh named Stargell the Pirates' captain. In effect, he succeeded Bill Mazeroski, who had been named Bucs captain in 1962 and held the position until his retirement in 1972.

*In the middle of the 1978 season, Stargell began awarding gold stars to teammates as rewards for "little things" that they did to contribute to victories. The "Stargell Stars" became a phenomenon during the 1979 season, when the Pirates captured the fascination of the country on their way to a surprising world championship.

*In 1998, I finally had the chance to meet Willie for the first time. Although he looked frail and his speech had been slowed by his already deteriorating condition, he was a captivating speaker who impressed a group of kids that saw him speak in the Hall of Fame's theater. Later that day, several staff members from the Hall were privileged to have lunch with him. His stories, his sense of humor, and his ability to relate to people he had just met made the day a memorable one.

*Thanks to Willie for providing so many great baseball memories.

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