Wilver Dornel Stargell
ON MONDAY APRIL 9, 2001, BASEBALL LOST ONE OF ITS MOST BELOVED AND CHARISMATIC
SUPERSTARS TO EVER GRACE THE DIAMOND. THIS PAGE IS MY HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO "POPS" NUMBER 8.
How ironic that Willie died on the very
day that the Bucs opened PNC Park.
A statue immortalizing Pops was dedicated there just two days before.
As young children, we all had sports heroes we liked to imitate in our own neighborhood/backyard games. For me, that person was Willie Stargell. Unfortunately, I was too young to experience the other great "modern" Pirate, Roberto Clemente first hand, but I have very vivid memories of Pops and the late 70s Buccos. There are even stronger memories of my (very poor) attempts to imitate that trademark twirling bat motion when we played our neighborhood wiffle ball games. More times than not, I was more concerned with whirling the bat than I was with actually hitting the ball. I never seemed to get the hang of EITHER one.
(It's funny how we try to emulate the characteristics of our sports heroes... AMAZING how much better I was able to throw a football when someone convinced me that the best way to do so did NOT include keeping the tip of your index finger in the tip of the ball, a la Terry Bradshaw).
Somewhere in my mother's closets back home there are surely countless photographs of a skinny 8 year old kid wearing the unmistakably recognizable pillbox Pirate cap. Not having perfected my sewing skills at that age, I used to tape my own paper stars around the sides of my cap. (They would last all of about 5 minutes before the wind or other elements would take them back off). But I used to pretend that those stars came from the recommendation of Willie and that I was part of the "Fam-A-Lee."
I have kept music out of the rest of my web pages, because it tends to only clutter things up that much more, but there really is no way to create a page dedicated to Willie without some rendition of We Are Family jamming along in the background. If the music bothers you, by all means, turn it off using the controls at the bottom of the page, but stick around to pay your tribute to Willie.
I'll always remember where I was when I heard that Pops had died -- online trying to buy baseball tickets to the May 19th game promoted as Willie Stargell replica statue night. I have Willie's statue and bobblehead prominently displayed in my office. But this one is for Willie and the Fam-A-Lee!
"Now, he will always be remembered on
every Opening Day as long as PNC Park is here. They will say 'this was the day
that Willie Stargell went to the mansion.'" -- Chuck Tanner, former Pirate
"He was my hero. He's the reason I wore No. 8" -- Joe Morgan, fellow baseball Hall of Famer and television commentator.
"He taught me a lot of the same things that my father did when I was growing up, but I saw it lived in Wilver Dornel Stargell." -- Al Oliver, Pirate teammate.
"Willie Stargell was a big man. He had to
be a big man (to contain) his enormous heart, his zest for living and his
enthusiasm for life." -- Steve Blass, Pirate teammate.
"He never took himself so seriously that he lost track of the fact that we are just playing a simple game." -- Steve Blass.
"Willie, on behalf of the Pittsburgh Pirates, we love you very much. And we miss you." -- Kevin McClatchy, Pittsburgh Pirates owner.
Sign the Memories of Willie guest book and provide your fondest memory of Pops for other fans of Willie to read!
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