Willie Stargell

Wilver Dornell Stargell (March 6, 1940 – April 9, 2001), nicknamed "Pops" in the later years of his career, was an American professional baseball player. He played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career (19621982) as the left fielder and first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League (NL). Over his 21-year career with the Pirates, he batted .282, with 2,232 hits, 423 doubles, 475 home runs, and 1,540 runs batted in, helping his team capture six NL East division titles, two National League pennants, and two World Series (1971, 1979). Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.[1]

Willie Stargell
Willie Stargell 1965
Stargell in 1965
Left fielder / First baseman
Born: March 6, 1940
Earlsboro, Oklahoma
Died: April 9, 2001 (aged 61)
Wilmington, North Carolina
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 16, 1962, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1982, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average.282
Hits2,232
Home runs475
Runs batted in1,540
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction1988
Vote82.4% (first ballot)

Early life

Stargell was born in Earlsboro, Oklahoma, but later moved to Florida with an aunt after his parents divorced. Later, he returned to Alameda, California, to live with his mother.[2] He attended Encinal High School, where his baseball teammates included future MLB players Tommy Harper and Curt Motton. Stargell signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and entered minor league baseball in 1959.[3]

Stargell played for farm teams in New Mexico, North Dakota, Iowa, Texas, North Carolina, and Ohio.[3] While on the road with some of those teams, Stargell was not allowed to stay in the same accommodations as the white players. Lodging for black players was located in the poor black areas of those towns. While in Plainview, Texas, he was accosted at gunpoint by a man who threatened his life if he played in that night's game. Stargell played and nothing came of the incident.[4] He 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.[5]

MLB career

Beloved in Pittsburgh for his style of play and affable manner, Stargell hit seven of the 18 balls ever hit over Forbes Field's 86-foot-high right-field stands [6] and several of the upper-tier home runs at its successor, Three Rivers Stadium. Though he became quickly known as Willie Stargell, his autograph suggests that he preferred his given name, Wilver. Biographer Frank Garland relates that Stargell's family and friends called him Wilver and that Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully also made a point of using Stargell's given name. Scully said that because he used the name Wilver, he became Stargell's mother's favorite broadcaster.[4]

Standing 6 feet 3 inches with long arms and a unique bat-handling practice of holding only the knob of the bat with his lower hand to provide extra bat extension, Stargell seemed larger than most batters. Stargell's swings seemed designed to hit home runs of Ruthian proportions. When most batters used a simple lead-weighted bat in the on-deck circle, Stargell took to warming up with a sledgehammer. While standing in the batter's box, he would windmill his bat until the pitcher started his windup.

1960s

Stargell made his MLB debut at the end of the 1962 season at the age of 22. His 1963 rookie season was lackluster, but he enjoyed much more success the following season, his first as an everyday player. Stargell began and ended the season as the Pirates' everyday left-fielder, but spent extended periods playing first base as well. He hit the first home run at Shea Stadium in the first game played in that stadium on April 17, 1964.[7] He made his first of seven trips to the All-Star Game that year. He returned to the All-Star Game the next two seasons, hitting over 100 runs batted in (RBI) in both years, and finishing respectively 14th and 15th in MVP voting. He won the first of the three NL Player of the Month awards of his career in June 1965 (.330, 10 HR, 35 RBI).

Frequent offseason conditioning problems came to a head in 1967, when Stargell showed up to spring training at a weight of 235 pounds. The team mandated that he diet to get down to a weight of 215 pounds. His batting average dropped more than .040 points that season; his home run total was reduced from 33 in 1966 to 20 in 1967. The team had a personal trainer work with Stargell before the 1968 season to get him in the best shape of his career, but Stargell had a poor season and manager Larry Shepard criticized Stargell's physique as too muscular.[8] He finished out the decade with a strong performance in 1969 (.307, 29 HR, 92 RBI), and finished 21st in MVP voting.

1970s

Willie Stargell 1979
Stargell playing first base for the Pirates in 1979.

Stargell enjoyed another fine season in 1970, batting .264 with 31 home runs and 85 RBIs and finishing 15th in MVP voting. On August 1 of that year, Stargell collected five extra-base hits—three doubles and two home runs—in the Pirates' 20-10 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium. He became the third player, after Lou Boudreau in 1946 and Joe Adcock in 1954, to collect five extra-base hits in one game. In the same game, teammate Bob Robertson also collected five hits, including a home run; not until Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones in 2012 would two Pirates collect five hits in the same game. The 1970 Pirates won the National League East title for their first postseason berth since winning the 1960 World Series. They were swept in that year's NLCS by the Cincinnati Reds, but not before Stargell collected six hits in 12 at-bats, the most hits by either team in this series.

Stargell's career moved to another level in 1971. At age 31, he won the first of his two home-run titles in 1971; his 48 edged out Hank Aaron's 47 on the final week of the season and, to date, trail only Ralph Kiner's 54 and 51 in 1949 and 1947, respectively, for most by a Pirate in one season. He won the final two NL Player of the Month awards of his career in April (.347, 11 HR, 27 RBI) and in June (.333, 11 HR, 36 RBI); yet he did not win the MVP award, finishing second to Joe Torre. In seven of the next nine seasons, Stargell finished in the top 10 in MVP voting, as his career moved onto a Hall of Fame track.

He was a member of the Pirates' World Championship team, the Pirates defeating the Baltimore Orioles in seven games. The Pirates lost the first two games of that series, which Stargell said that media began referring to as "the St. Valentine's Day Massacre" before Pittsburgh's comeback.[9]

Stargell continued to post excellent numbers in 1972 (.293, 33, 112) finishing third in MVP voting behind Johnny Bench and Billy Williams.

In 1973, Stargell achieved the rare feat of simultaneously leading the league in both doubles and homers. Stargell had more than 40 of each; he was the first player to chalk up this 40-40 accomplishment since Hank Greenberg in 1940; other players have done so since (notably Albert Belle, the only 50-50 player). 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. For the third year in a row, he was narrowly edged out of the MVP award, as Pete Rose took the honor.

Beginning in 1975, after years of experimenting at the position, Stargell moved permanently to first base. He never played another game in the outfield.

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

Stargell originated the practice of giving his teammates embroidered "Stargell stars" for their caps after a nice play or a good game. The practice began during the turbulent 1978 season, when the Pirates came from fourth place and 11.5 games behind in mid-August, to challenge the first-place Philadelphia Phillies for the division title. The season was scheduled to end in a dramatic, four-game showdown against the Phillies in Pittsburgh, in which the Pirates had to win all four games to claim the title. Following a Pirate sweep of the Friday-night double-header, Stargell belted a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning of the season's penultimate game to give the Pirates an early 4-1 lead, although the Pirates relinquished that lead later in the game and fell two runs short after a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning,[10] thus eliminating themselves from contention for the pennant. Stargell called that 1978 team his favorite team ever, and predicted that the Pirates would win the World Series the following year.

The Pirates did win the World Series in 1979, in a similar style as they had ended the 1978 season: from last place in the NL East at the end of April, the Pirates clawed their way into a first-place battle with the Montreal Expos during the latter half of the season. They excited fans with numerous come-from-behind victories along the way (many during their final at-bat) to claim the division pennant on the last day of the season. At his urging as captain, the team adopted the Sister Sledge hit song "We Are Family" as the team anthem. Then, his play on the field inspired his teammates and earned him the MVP awards in both the NLCS and the World Series. 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. The home run was his third of the series and, coincidentally, credited Stargell with the winning runs in both game 7s of the two postseason meetings between the Pirates and the Orioles (1971 and 1979). The 1979 World Series victory also made the Pirates the only franchise in baseball history to twice recover from a three-games-to-one deficit and win a World Series (previously they had done so in 1925 against the Washington Senators). For the series, Stargell went 12-for-30; along with his three home runs, he also recorded four doubles for 25 total bases, which remains tied as a World Series record, Reggie Jackson having set it in the 1977 World Series, and his seven extra-base hits (3 HRs and 4 doubles) in the 1979 World Series also set a record.

In addition to his NLCS and World Series MVP awards, Stargell finally took home the elusive MVP award (as co-winner along with St. Louis' Keith Hernandez) at the age of 39. Stargell is the only player to have won all three MVP trophies in a single year. He shared the Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsmen of the Year" award with NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who also played at Three Rivers Stadium, for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pirates manager Chuck Tanner said of Stargell, "Having him on your ball club is like having a diamond ring on your finger." Teammate Al Oliver once said, "If he asked us to jump off the Fort Pitt Bridge, we would ask him what kind of dive he wanted. That's how much respect we have for the man."

1980s

Stargell played until 1982, but he never appeared in more than 74 games after 1979.[11] He retired with 475 home runs despite playing much of his career at Forbes Field, whose deep left-center field distance was 457 feet. Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente estimated, perhaps generously, that Stargell hit 400 fly balls to the warning track in left and center fields during his eight seasons in the park. The short fence in right field (300 feet to the foul pole) at Forbes Field was guarded by a screen more than 20 feet high which ran from the right-field line to the 375-foot mark in right center. Three Rivers Stadium, a neutral hitter's park, boosted Stargell's power numbers. The Pirates moved into Three Rivers in mid-1970, and he hit 310 of his 475 career home runs from 1970 until his retirement, despite turning 30 in 1970. Stargell's two home run titles came in his first three years at Three Rivers. Stargell's last game was on October 3, 1982 at Three Rivers Stadium against the Montreal Expos. Batting leadoff, he hit a single off Steve Rogers. He was then pinch run by Doug Frobel and subsequently was replaced by Richie Hebner at first base. [12]

Long home runs

At one time, Stargell held the record for the longest home run in nearly half of the NL parks. On August 5, 1969, Stargell hit a home run off Alan Foster that left the stadium and measured 507 feet, the longest home run ever hit at Dodger Stadium. He hit a second home run out of Dodger Stadium on May 8, 1973, against Andy Messersmith, measured at 470 feet. Dodger starter Don Sutton said of Stargell, "I never saw anything like it. He doesn't just hit pitchers, he takes away their dignity." Only four other home runs have been hit out of Dodger Stadium.

On June 25, 1971, Stargell hit the longest home run in Veterans Stadium history during a 14-4 Pirates win over the Philadelphia Phillies.[13] The spot where the ball landed (the shot came in the second inning and chased starting pitcher Jim Bunning) was eventually marked with a yellow star with a black "S" inside a white circle until Stargell's 2001 death, when the white circle was painted black.[14] The star remained in place until the stadium's 2004 demolition. In 1978, against Wayne Twitchell of the Montreal Expos, Stargell hit the only fair ball ever to reach the club deck of Olympic Stadium. The seat where the ball landed (the home run was measured at 535 feet) was replaced with a yellow seat, while the other seats in the upper deck are red. Upon the Expos departure in 2004, the seat was removed and sent to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bob Prince, the colorful longtime Pirate radio announcer would greet a Stargell home run with the phrase "Chicken on the Hill". This referred to Stargell's ownership of a chicken restaurant in Pittsburgh's Hill District. For a time, whenever he homered, Stargell's restaurant would give away free chicken to all patrons present in the restaurant at the time of the home run, in a promotion dubbed "Chicken on the Hill with Will". Prince himself once promised free chicken to listeners if Stargell hit a home run; Stargell did homer and Prince picked up a $400 bill at the restaurant.[15]

Later life

Willie Stargell 1983
Stargell signs autographs after his retirement in 1983.

After retirement, Stargell spent two years as a first base coach for the Atlanta Braves from 1986-1988, wearing his customary #8. He was the first minor-league hitting coach for Chipper Jones.[16] He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988, his first year of eligibility. He 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. 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.[8]

In the 1985 trial of alleged cocaine dealer Curtis Strong, Stargell was accused by Dale Berra and John Milner (both former Pirates teammates) of distributing "greenies" (amphetamines) to players.[17] Berra said that he obtained amphetamines from Stargell and Bill Madlock; he said he could get them from Stargell "on any given day I asked him for one."[18] Stargell strongly denied these accusations.[17] Commissioner Peter Ueberroth later cleared Stargell and Madlock of any wrongdoing.[5]

Stargell returned to the Pittsburgh club in 1997 as an aide to Cam Bonifay, the team's general manager. He also worked as a special baseball adviser to Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy, who called Stargell "the ultimate class act".[15] Stargell was hospitalized for three weeks in 1999 to treat undisclosed medical problems with one of his organs. A source close to the Pirates blamed Stargell's health issues on his weight gain after retiring as a player. Stargell lost some of that weight, but gained weight again while working for the Pittsburgh front office.[19]

After years of suffering from a kidney disorder, he died of complications related to a stroke in Wilmington, North Carolina, on April 9, 2001. In his later life, Stargell had also suffered from hypertension and heart failure. A segment of Stargell's bowel was removed more than two years before he died. He had been in the hospital recovering from a gallbladder surgery at the time of his death.[4] On April 7, 2001, two days before Stargell died, a larger-than-life statue of him was unveiled at the Pirates' new stadium, PNC Park, as part of the opening-day ceremonies.[15]

Legacy

Pirates 8
Willie Stargell's number 8 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1982.

The Pirates retired his number 8 on September 6, 1982. In 1999, he ranked 81st on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players,[20] and was also nominated as a finalist for the MLB All-Century Team. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 1994 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Stargell also threw out the ceremonial last pitch at Three Rivers Stadium before the team's move after the 2000 season.

After Stargell died, Joe Morgan said, "When I played, there were 600 baseball players, and 599 of them loved Willie Stargell. He's the only guy I could have said that about. He never made anybody look bad and he never said anything bad about anybody."[5]

The Willie Stargell Foundation was established to promote research and treatment for kidney disease.[21] Champion Enterprises sponsors a Willie Stargell Memorial Awards Banquet which raises money for disadvantaged children in Pittsburgh.[22]

Stargell also worked to raise awareness of sickle cell anemia. He formed the Black Athletes Foundation (BAF) shortly after President Richard M. Nixon identified the disease as a "national health problem" in the early 1970s. For a decade, BAF, renamed the Willie Stargell Foundation, raised research money and public awareness about the disease. Starting in 1981, sickle cell awareness and fundraising was gradually being assumed by The Sickle Cell Society Inc. The Willie Stargell Foundation transitioned to raising money for treatment of and research into kidney disease.[23][24][25]

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 5th Avenue. [26]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Willie Stargell at the Baseball Hall of Fame". baseballhall.org. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  2. ^ Colon, Bob. "Earlsboro: Birthplace of a Legend". NewsOK. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Pini, David. "Biography: Stargell, Wilver Dornell (Willie, Pops)". Penn State University. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Garland, Frank (2013). Willie Stargell: A Life in Baseball. McFarland. p. 214. ISBN 0786465344.
  5. ^ a b c Collier, Gene. "Obituary: Willie Stargell: Numbers couldn't measure the man". Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  6. ^ McCollister, John (2008). The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: Pittsburgh Pirates: Heart-Pounding, Jaw-Dropping and Gut-Wrenching Moments From Pittsburgh Pirates History. Chicago, Il: Triumph Books. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-57243-982-5. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
  7. ^ April 17, 1964 Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets Play by Play and Box Score
  8. ^ a b Willie Stargell at the SABR Bio Project, by James Forr, retrieved August 24, 2013
  9. ^ "Telegraph Herald". Telegraph Herald. October 9, 1974. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  10. ^ "September 30, 1978 Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates Box Score and Play by Play". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
  11. ^ "Willie Stargell Statistics". Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  12. ^ https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT198210030.shtml
  13. ^ "June 25, 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies Box Score and Play by Play". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  14. ^ Mandel, Ken (2003-06-25). "Stargell's star a lasting tribute; Blast is marking point for all hitters". MLB.com. Archived from the original on 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  15. ^ a b c "Stargell was Pirates' inspirational leader in '70s". ESPN Classic. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  16. ^ Bradley, Mark. "In a time of upheaval, a constant remains — Chipper Jones". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  17. ^ a b Richard Lacayo & Joseph N. Boyce, "The Cocaine Agonies Continue" in Time, 23 September 1985.
  18. ^ "Willie Stargell Gave Out Amphetamines, Dale Berra Testifies". Los Angeles Times. September 10, 1985. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  19. ^ "Stargell hospitalized, undergoing treatment". Observer–Reporter. September 2, 1999. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  20. ^ http://www.baseball-almanac.com/legendary/lisn100.shtml
  21. ^ "Mission Statement". Willie Stargell Foundation. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  22. ^ "City of Champions". Kumite Classic. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  23. ^ Collier, Gene (April 10, 2001). "Willie Stargell: Numbers couldn't measure the man". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  24. ^ New Pittsburgh Courier Editorial Staff. "Sickle Cell Society Inc/Murray – Irvis Genetic Disease Center: A History of Care". New Pittsburg Courier. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  25. ^ "The Williie Stargell Foundation Website". Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  26. ^ East Bay Times

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
Ken Boyer
Hitting for the cycle
July 22, 1964
Succeeded by
Jim Fregosi
Preceded by
Joe Torre
Bob Gibson
Lou Brock
Major League Player of the Month
June 1965 (with Vern Law)
April 1971
June 1971
Succeeded by
Pete Rose
Lou Brock
Ferguson Jenkins
1965 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1965 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 36th midseason exhibition between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was played on July 13, 1965, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. The game resulted in a 6–5 victory for the NL.

1971 in baseball

The following are the baseball events of the year 1971 throughout the world.

1979 Major League Baseball season

The 1979 Major League Baseball season. None of the post-season teams of 1977 or 1978 returned to this year's postseason. In a re-match of the 1971 World Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games in the 1979 World Series.

1979 National League Championship Series

The 1979 National League Championship Series was played between the National League West champion Cincinnati Reds and the National League East champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was the fourth time in the 1970s that the Pirates and Reds had faced off for the pennant; Cincinnati had won all three previous meetings in 1970, 1972 and 1975.

The Pirates won the series in a three-game sweep in what would be the last postseason appearance for both franchises until 1990.

1979 Pittsburgh Pirates season

The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates had 98 wins and 64 losses and captured the National League East Division title by two games over the Montreal Expos. The Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds to win their ninth National League title, and the Baltimore Orioles to win their fifth World Series title – and also their last playoff series victory to date. The disco hit "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge was used as the team's theme song that season.

1979 World Series

The 1979 World Series was the 76th edition of Major League Baseball's championship series and the conclusion of the 1979 Major League Baseball season. A best-of-seven playoff, it was played between the National League (NL) champion Pittsburgh Pirates (98–64) and the American League (AL) champion Baltimore Orioles (102–57), with the Pirates becoming the fourth team in World Series history to come back from a three games to one deficit to win the Series in seven games. This marked the second time in the 1970s the Pirates won a World Series Game 7 on the road against Baltimore Orioles, the previous time being in the 1971 World Series. The Pirates were famous for adopting Sister Sledge's hit anthem "We Are Family" as their theme song.

Willie Stargell, pitcher Bruce Kison, and catcher Manny Sanguillén were the only players left over from the Pirates team that defeated the Orioles in the 1971 World Series, and Orioles' pitcher Jim Palmer, shortstop Mark Belanger, and manager Earl Weaver were the only remaining Orioles from the 1971 team. Grant Jackson pitched for the Orioles in the 1971 series and for the Pirates in the 1979 series.

In this Series, it was the American League team's "turn" to play by National League rules, meaning no designated hitter and the Orioles' pitchers would have to bat. While this resulted in Tim Stoddard getting his first major league hit and RBI in Game 4, overall, it hurt the Orioles because Lee May, their designated hitter for much of the season and a key part of their offense, was only able to bat three times in the whole series.

Willie Stargell, the series MVP, hit .400 with a record seven extra-base hits and matched Reggie Jackson's record of 25 total bases, set in 1977.

The 1979 Pirates were the last team to win Game 7 of a World Series on the road until the San Francisco Giants defeated the Royals in Kansas City to win Game 7 of the 2014 Series. They were also the last road team to win Game 7 of a championship round, in any major league sport, until the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings 2–1 at Joe Louis Arena to win the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. With the Steelers having already won Super Bowl XIII, Pittsburgh also became the second city to win both the Super Bowl and the World Series in the same year, with the New York Jets and the New York Mets winning titles in 1969. New York repeated the feat in 1986 (New York Mets and New York Giants), as did the New England area in the 2004 season (Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots) and the 2018 season (Red Sox and Patriots).

1979 in baseball

The following are the baseball events of the year 1979 throughout the world.

1979 in sports

1979 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.

1988 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1988 followed the system in place since 1978.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and

elected Willie Stargell.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider older major league players as well as managers, umpires, executives, and figures from the Negro Leagues.

It selected no one.

Green Weenie

The Green Weenie was a sports gimmick co-created by Bob Prince (1916–1985), the legendary broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball team, and Pirate trainer Danny Whelan. It was most popular during the 1966 baseball season in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The "Green Weenie" was manufactured by Tri-State Plastics, a Pittsburgh plastic thermoforming company between 1967-1974 and during the 1989 season.

The Green Weenie was a green plastic rattle in the shape of a hot dog, which when waved at opposing players, purportedly put a jinx on them. Conversely, when waved at Pirate players it allegedly bestowed good luck.

The superstition began during a 1966 game against the Houston Astros, when Danny Whelan shouted from the dugout at Astros' pitcher Dave Giusti, "You're gonna walk him!" while waving a green rubber hot dog in the direction of the pitcher's mound. Giusti did walk the batter, and the Astros lost the game. During the next game's broadcast, Prince quizzed Whelan about the frankfurter incident, and the gimmick was born. Within weeks, Green Weenies were being sold to fans at Forbes Field.

Though the gimmick didn't conjure up a pennant for the Pirates in 1966, the writer Dave Cole has noted that Roberto Clemente did win that year's National League MVP Award, Matty Alou won the National League batting title, Bill Mazeroski led the league in double plays, and Willie Stargell had his personal best year in batting.

According to the August 12, 1966 issue of Time Magazine, however, the hex of the Green Weenie sometimes seemed to work: "When the Pirates played the Giants two weeks ago, Prince pointed a Weenie at Juan Marichal. Marichal won the game, 2-1, but next day he caught the third finger of his pitching hand in a car door and missed two scheduled turns on the mound. In Pittsburgh, the Pirates were trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 in the seventh inning when Prince's fellow announcer Don Hoak begged Bob to use the Weenie. 'Not yet,' said Prince. In the eighth inning, with Pittsburgh still behind by two runs, Prince finally waved the Weenie. The Pirates scored four runs and won the game 5-3. 'Remember,' said Prince to Hoak. 'Never waste the power of the Green Weenie.'"

The Green Weenie was revived several times during subsequent seasons, but failed to stay popular with fans.

In 1974, Prince invented another talisman, encouraging female fans to spark a Pirates rally by waving their babushkas (folded kerchiefs used as head coverings, especially by East European women, a large immigrant minority in Pittsburgh). "Babushka Power," as it was called, most likely inspired the Terrible Towel, another sports gimmick created a year later by sportscaster Myron Cope for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the city's football team. The Terrible Towel has remained popular with Steeler fans for over thirty years.

Joe L. Brown

Joe LeRoy Brown (September 1, 1918 – August 15, 2010) was an American front office executive in Major League Baseball.

Brown served as the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates from November 1, 1955, through the end of the 1976 season. Under his administration, the Pirates recovered from four consecutive last-place finishes in the National League to world championships in 1960 and 1971. Led by the great Baseball Hall of Fame players Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, the Bucs became consistent contenders for much of Brown's 21-year tenure, finishing in the first division six times between 1956 and 1968, and capturing five National League East Division titles from 1969 through 1976.

List of Pittsburgh Pirates broadcasters

The Pittsburgh Pirates are members of Major League Baseball (MLB); they have employed sportscasters to provide play-by-play and color commentary during games broadcast over the radio and on television.

On August 5, 1921, Pittsburgh hosted the first baseball game broadcast over the radio. Harold Arlin, a foreman at Westinghouse, announced the game over KDKA from a box seat next to the first base dugout at Forbes Field. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s "occasional" games would be broadcast, until Rosey Rowswell became the first "Voice of the Pirates" in 1936. While most of Roswell's early broadcasts were solo, he was joined by Pirates' co-owner Bing Crosby and his successor Bob Prince for games. Prince took over as lead broadcaster in 1955 and held the position over the next 20 seasons. Prince gained a reputation for giving players nicknames and inventing catchphrases to describe the game; he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in August 1986. After the Pirates fired Bob Prince and his sidekick Nellie King after the 1975 season, they hired Milo Hamilton away from Atlanta to be the lead broadcaster and brought Lanny Frattare from their minor league affiliate to be the second announcer. After Hamilton left after the 1979 season, Frattare held the position for 29 years—the longest tenure of any Pirates' broadcaster. Upon Frattare's retirement after the 2008 season, Greg Brown took over the role as lead broadcaster. Multiple people have held temporary positions as broadcasters, including former players Don Hoak, Dave Giusti, Willie Stargell, and Pittsburgh Penguins' broadcaster Mike Lange.WWSW-FM broadcast Pirates' games on the radio during the 1940s and 1950s until KDKA became the franchise's flagship station in 1955. In 2006, the Pirates switched to WPGB in an attempt to reach younger age brackets; under the contract WPGB carried Pirates' games though the 2011 season. Starting with the 2012 season, KDKA-FM took over as the flagship station of the Pirates Radio Network. As of 2016, the Pirates Radio Network has stations located in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.

List of Pittsburgh Pirates team records

The Pittsburgh Pirates are a professional baseball team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They compete in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's (MLB) National League (NL). Founded in 1882 as Allegheny, the club played in the American Association before moving to the National League in 1887. The list below documents players and teams that hold particular club records.

In 134 seasons from 1882 through 2015, the team has won over 10,000 games and five World Series championships. The team has appeared in 18 postseasons and has won nine league pennants. Roberto Clemente owns the most career batting records with five. Ralph Kiner, Arky Vaughan and Paul Waner each own three single-season batting records. Bob Friend owns the most career pitching records and Ed Morris the most single-season pitching records, both with six.

In their history, the Pittsburgh Pirates have set three Major League Baseball records. In 1912, Chief Wilson hit an MLB-record 36 triples and, on May 30, 1925, the team collectively hit a major league-record eight triples in a single game. In addition, six no-hitters have been thrown in the history of the franchise, with the most recent on July 12, 1997. The Pirates also hold the MLB—and North American professional sports—record for most consecutive losing seasons with 20. The stretch began with the 1993 season and concluded with the 2012 season, at which point the Pirates recorded a winning record and a playoff berth in the 2013 season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates are an American professional baseball team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pirates compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division. The Pirates play their home games at PNC Park; the team previously played at Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium, the latter of which was named after its location near the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. Founded on October 15, 1881 as Allegheny, the franchise has won five World Series championships. The Pirates are also often referred to as the "Bucs" or the "Buccos" (derived from buccaneer, a synonym for pirate).

The franchise joined the NL in its eighth season in 1887 and was competitive from its early years, winning three NL titles from 1901 to 1903, playing in the inaugural World Series in 1903 and winning their first World Series in 1909 behind Honus Wagner. The Pirates have had many ups and downs during their long history, most famously winning the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees on a game-winning walk-off home run by Bill Mazeroski, the only time that Game 7 of the World Series has ever ended with a home run. They also won the 1971 World Series, led by the talent of Roberto Clemente, and the 1979 World Series under the slogan "We Are Family", led by "Pops" Willie Stargell.

After a run of regular-season success in the early 1990s (winning three straight East Division titles), the Pirates struggled mightily over the following 20 years, with 20 consecutive losing seasons from 1993 to 2012—the longest such streak in American professional sports history before posting a winning record in 2013 of 94–68, qualifying them for the NL Wild Card. They advanced to the NL Division Series round, where they lost in 5 games to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates made the playoffs in both 2014 and 2015, losing in the Wild Card Game both times. The Pirates currently have the longest World Series appearance drought in Major League Baseball among any team with at least one appearance, their most recent showing being their victory in the 1979 World Series. From 1882–2018, the Pirates have an overall record of 10476–10312 (a .504 winning 'percentage').

Pittsburgh Pirates award winners and league leaders

This is a list of all awards won by players and personnel of the Pittsburgh Pirates professional baseball team.

Pops (nickname)

Pops is a nickname for:

Louis Armstrong (1901–1971), American jazz musician

Henry Beasley (1876–1949), British Army lieutenant colonel and early contract bridge player

Clarence Coleman (baseball) (1884-?), African-American baseball catcher in the pre-Negro leagues

Pops Fernandez (born 1966), Filipino singer

Pops Foster (1892–1969), American jazz musician

Berry Gordy, Sr. (1888–1978), American businessman

Stan Heal (1920–2010), Australian footballer and politician

Emmett Johns (born 1928), Canadian priest

Lonnie Lynn (1943–2014), American basketball player

Pops Mensah-Bonsu (born 1983), British basketball player

Pops Mohamed (born 1949), South African jazz musician

Pops Staples (1914–2000), American gospel and R&B musician

Willie Stargell (1940–2001), American Major League Baseball player

Pops Yoshimura (1922–1995), Japanese motorcycle tuner and race team owner

Roberto Clemente Award

The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team", as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media. It is named for Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente. Originally known as the Commissioner's Award, it has been presented by the MLB since 1971. In 1973, the award was renamed after Clemente following his death in a plane crash while delivering supplies to victims of the Nicaragua earthquake.Each year, a panel of baseball dignitaries selects one player from among 30 nominees, one from each club. Teams choose their nominee during the regular season, and the winner is announced at the World Series. The player who receives the most votes online via MLB's official website, MLB.com, gets one vote in addition to the votes cast by the panel. Since 2007, the Roberto Clemente Award has been presented by Chevy. Chevy donates money and a Chevy vehicle to the recipient's charity of choice and additional money is donated by Chevy to the Roberto Clemente Sports City, a non-profit organization in Carolina, Puerto Rico, that provides recreational sports activities for children. Chevy donates additional funds to the charity of choice of each of the 30 club nominees.The first recipient of the award was Willie Mays, and the most recent honoree is Yadier Molina. No player has received the award more than once. The first pitcher to receive the award was Phil Niekro in 1980, and the first catcher to receive it was Gary Carter in 1989. To date, Clemente's former teammate Willie Stargell and Andrew McCutchen are the only members of the Pittsburgh Pirates to receive the honor. Stargell won his award in 1974, and McCutchen in 2015. The Pirates themselves have worn Clemente-era throwback uniforms in recent years on Roberto Clemente Day, on which day they present their award nominee to MLB. In 2014, the award was presented to two players—Paul Konerko and Jimmy Rollins—for the first, and to date only, time.

San Angelo/Roswell Pirates

The San Angelo Pirates were a class-D minor league baseball, club based in San Angelo, Texas. The team first played in 1958 and partially during the following season. On June 9, 1959 the Pirates moved to Roswell, New Mexico to become the Roswell Pirates. In 1959, the San Angelo/Roswell Pirates was the first professional team to feature Willie Stargell, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988. Stargell hit .274 with 7 homeruns and 87 RBI in 118 games with the team.

Scott McGregor (baseball)

Scott Houston McGregor (born January 18, 1954) is a former Major League Baseball player, a pitcher who spent his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles from 1976 to 1988. He is the pitching coach for the Aberdeen IronBirds.Born and raised in southern California, McGregor played baseball at El Segundo High School with hall of famer George Brett, who was a year ahead. He was the fourteenth overall selection in the 1972 Major League Baseball draft and was in the New York Yankees' organization until June 1976, when he was part of a ten-player deal.McGregor was selected to the American League All-Star team in 1981. He won 20 games in 1980 and was solid in two postseasons with the Orioles in 1979 and 1983. McGregor sent the Orioles to the World Series by clinching the 1979 ALCS with a Game 4 shutout of the California Angels. He pitched a complete game victory in Pittsburgh in Game 3 of the World Series. Despite taking the loss in Game 7, McGregor yielded two runs in 8 innings to Willie Stargell and the eventual champion Pirates.In the 1983 postseason, McGregor allowed two runs in the openers of the ALCS and World Series, but lost both games by scores of 2–1 to the White Sox and Phillies, respectively. However, in Game 5, he shut out the Phillies in a complete game to end the series, four games to one. He remained a starting pitcher on the Orioles for the next five seasons, and made his final appearance on April 27, 1988.After his baseball career ended, McGregor worked as a youth pastor and for five years headed a church in Dover, Delaware.In 2002, McGregor returned to baseball as a pitching coach in Class A ball, and began working his way up. He was named interim Orioles bullpen coach in late 2013 replacing Bill Castro, who was promoted to pitching coach. He did not return in 2014.

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