Wilver Dornell "Willie" Stargell, known as "Pops" by his teammates, played his entire twenty-one-year major league career for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with 475 career home runs in 2,360 games. He is one of only fourteen players who played at least twenty seasons for one club, and he hit twenty or more home runs for thirteen straight seasons.
Born in Earlsboro, Oklahoma, on March 6, 1940, and proud of his Seminole heritage, Stargell was renowned for his leadership as well as his slugging ability. He was captain of "The Family," as the 1979 National League champion Pirates were known. He was voted the Most Valuable player in the league that year, winning the Triple Crown with thirty-two homers, a.281 batting average, and eighty-two runs batted in.
Stargell batted .282 for his career and batted in 1,540 runs. In two World Series he batted.315 with three home runs and eight RBIs. His long home runs featured seven over the right field roof at Pittsburgh's old Forbes Field, four into the upper deck at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium, two completely out of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and a home run estimated at 535 feet at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
His peak season was 1973, when he hit 44 homers and drove in 119 runs with a .299 average, but it went largely unnoticed when the Pirates slumped. He played for the Pirates from 1962 through 1982 and later coached for the Pirates and Braves. He became special assistant to the Pirates general manager in 1997. He is a member of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. Willie "Pops" Stargell died April 9, 2001, at Wilmington, North Carolina.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bob Burke, Kenny A. Franks and Royce Parr, Glory Days of Summer, The History of Baseball in Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1999. "Willie Stargell," Vertical File, Archives, Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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