50 Facts About Willie Stargell


Willie Stargell was a seven-time All-Star and two-time NL home run leader.

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Willie Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.

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Willie Stargell was born in Earlsboro, Oklahoma, but later moved to Florida with an aunt after his parents divorced.

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Willie Stargell attended Encinal High School, where his baseball teammates included future MLB players Tommy Harper and Curt Motton.

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Willie Stargell signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and entered minor league baseball in 1959.

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Willie Stargell played for farm teams in New Mexico, North Dakota, Iowa, Texas, North Carolina, and Ohio.

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Willie Stargell might have quit baseball over the racial difficulties that he experienced, but he was encouraged by letters he received from friend and baseball scout Bob Zuk.

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Willie Stargell's swings seemed designed to hit home runs of Ruthian proportions.

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Willie Stargell made his MLB debut at the end of the 1962 season at the age of 22.

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Willie Stargell began and ended the season as the Pirates' everyday left-fielder, but spent extended periods playing first base as well.

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Willie Stargell hit the first home run at Shea Stadium in the first game played in that stadium on April 17,1964.

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Willie Stargell made his first of seven trips to the All-Star Game that year.

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Willie Stargell returned to the All-Star Game the next two seasons, hitting over 100 runs batted in in both years, and finishing respectively 14th and 15th in MVP voting.

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Frequent offseason conditioning problems came to a head in 1967, when Willie Stargell showed up to spring training at a weight of 235 pounds.

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Willie Stargell became the third player, after Lou Boudreau in 1946 and Joe Adcock in 1954, to collect five extra-base hits in one game.

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In seven of the next nine seasons, Willie Stargell finished in the top 10 in MVP voting, as his career moved onto a Hall of Fame track.

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Willie Stargell was a member of the Pirates' World Championship team, the Pirates defeating the Baltimore Orioles in seven games.

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The Pirates lost the first two games of that series, which Willie Stargell said that media began referring to as "the St Valentine's Day Massacre" before Pittsburgh's comeback.

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In 1973, Willie Stargell achieved the rare feat of simultaneously leading the league in both doubles and homers.

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Willie Stargell won his second home-run title that year, edging out three Atlanta Braves: Davey Johnson's 43, Darrell Evans' 41 and Aaron's 40.

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Willie Stargell led the league in runs batted in and slugging percentage.

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In 1977, Willie Stargell hit his 400th career home run on June 29 against the St Louis Cardinals.

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Willie Stargell originated the practice of giving his teammates embroidered "Willie Stargell stars" for their caps after a nice play or a good game.

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Willie Stargell called that 1978 team his favorite team ever, and predicted that the Pirates would win the World Series the following year.

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Willie Stargell capped off the year by hitting a dramatic home run in Baltimore during the late innings of a close Game 7 to seal a Pirates' championship.

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Willie Stargell is the only player to have won all three MVP trophies in a single year.

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Willie Stargell shared the Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsmen of the Year" award with NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who played at Three Rivers Stadium, for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Willie Stargell played until 1982, but he never appeared in more than 74 games after 1979.

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Willie Stargell retired with 475 home runs despite playing much of his career at Forbes Field, whose center field distance was 457 feet.

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Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente estimated, perhaps generously, that Willie Stargell hit 400 fly balls to the warning track in left and center fields during his eight seasons in the park.

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Willie Stargell was then pinch run by Doug Frobel and subsequently was replaced by Richie Hebner at first base.

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At one time, Willie Stargell held the record for the longest home run in nearly half of the NL parks.

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Willie Stargell hit a second home run out of Dodger Stadium on May 8,1973, against Andy Messersmith, measured at 470 feet.

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In 1978, against Wayne Twitchell of the Montreal Expos, Willie Stargell hit the only fair ball to reach the club deck of Olympic Stadium.

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Prince himself once promised free chicken to listeners if Willie Stargell hit a home run; Willie Stargell did homer and Prince picked up a $400 bill at the restaurant.

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Willie Stargell was the first minor-league hitting coach for Chipper Jones.

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Willie Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988, his first year of eligibility.

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Willie Stargell had an awkward interaction with the Pirates that season when the team wanted to schedule a Willie Stargell Night to honor his Hall of Fame election.

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Willie Stargell refused to participate in the team's plans, still stinging from the team's refusal to even consider him for its managerial job that season.

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Willie Stargell returned to the Pittsburgh club in 1997 as an aide to Cam Bonifay, the team's general manager.

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Willie Stargell worked as a special baseball adviser to Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy, who called Stargell "the ultimate class act".

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Willie Stargell was hospitalized for three weeks in 1999 to treat undisclosed medical problems with one of his organs.

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Willie Stargell lost some of that weight, but gained weight again while working for the Pittsburgh front office.

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Willie Stargell had been in the hospital recovering from gallbladder surgery at the time of his death.

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Willie Stargell threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 1994 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

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Willie Stargell threw out the ceremonial last pitch at Three Rivers Stadium before the team's move after the 2000 season.

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Willie Stargell never made anybody look bad and he never said anything bad about anybody.

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Willie Stargell Foundation was established to promote research and treatment for kidney disease.

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Willie Stargell formed the Black Athletes Foundation shortly after President Richard M Nixon identified the disease as a "national health problem" in the early 1970s.

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Wilver “Willie” Stargell Avenue is a major thoroughfare in his adolescent home of Alameda, California, connecting to the former Naval Air Station Alameda, and Stargell is honored with a plaque and plaza at its intersection with Fifth Street.

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