Pirates great could really carry the mail
Friday, August 26, 2011
By Diana Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Margaret Stargell has known for a while that a likeness of her late husband, the Pirates' Hall of Fame slugger Willie Stargell, would be on a postage stamp; the rest of us found out Thursday.
Having once compared hitting Sandy Koufax to "drinking coffee with a fork," Mr. Stargell would probably greet the news with a humor.
"I'm sure he would make some comment about how the envelope might not get to its destination if he's on it," she said from her home in Wilmington, N.C. "He would have fun with it but would clearly be honored."
The U.S. Postal Service chose Mr. Stargell as one of four baseball greats to appear on an All-Star set of new stamps to be issued next summer. Yankees great Joe DiMaggio and Larry Doby, the second black player to play in the major leagues, for the Cleveland Indians, were chosen first; the fourth is a player to be named later.
Stephen Kearney, executive director of stamp services for the U.S. Postal Service, offered this hint to figuring out his identity: The four players are being announced in alphabetical order.
The Pirates' slugger, who died at age 61 on the day PNC Park opened in 2001, was the captain of the 1979 "Lumber Company" team that won Pittsburgh's most recent World Series. He played his entire 20-year career as a Pirate, the latter years with the nickname "Pops."
The likeness of Mr. Stargell, in a batting stance wearing the sun-gold jersey of the late '70s, will travel on mail as a "forever" stamp -- one you can use without adding to it if the cost of stamps goes up.
"I love it," said Ms. Stargell, from whom the postal service got permission. "I think it's Willie. It's vibrant. He comes to life on that.
"It is an extraordinary honor for an extraordinary human being. To know he will be on a forever stamp to be remembered for years to come is overwhelming, and it warms my heart."
Steve Blass, whose entire Pirates' pitching career was played with Mr. Stargell as a teammate, was elated.
"Willie Stargell getting a stamp," he said. "I love it. I'm so glad to hear it, and I wish Willie was here and we could have a glass of wine together. He goes beyond just being a great ball player."
Mr. Blass said that when his good control on the mound went so inexplicably south in 1973, "I don't know of anyone who stood any taller for me than Willie."
Mr. Kearney said Mr. Stargell's inclusion in the stamp group was recommended by the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, a group that reviews 40,000 suggestions a year for new stamps.
Fans reacted on the Post-Gazette's Facebook page Thursday when the news broke.
"Pops was one of a kind!" Heidi Miller commented. "His star will always shine brightly in Pittsburgh ... glad the entire country will soon honor him too!"
Chauncey Ross wrote, "Pops has done it!"
Mr. Kearney said the postal service plans a Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y., when the stamps are issued and to hold individual promotions with each of the teams whose player is being honored.
Mr. Stargell is only the second Pirates star to appear on a postage stamp.
Roberto Clemente was honored on a stamp in 1984, when they cost 20 cents for the first ounce, and again in 2000 as part of the "Legends of Baseball" series. The rate is now 44 cents.
The Major League Baseball All Star stamp set will be issued in July 2012.
Artist/illustrator Kadir Nelson of Los Angeles based his artwork on historic photographs of the four players.
Mark Saunders, a spokesman for the postal service, said commemorative stamps such as these are issued "to engage more interest in stamp collecting."
The stamps are shown on Facebook at www.facebook.com/USPSStamps, through Twitter @USPSstamps or at http://beyondtheperf.com/2012-preview. Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service's site for philatelic news.
Diana Nelson Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1626. Read her blog City Walkabout at www.post-gazette.com/citywalk.
Stargell honored on 2012 All-Star stamp set
By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Friday, August 26, 2011
Pirates legend Willie "Pops" Stargell, who intimidated opposing pitchers by swinging a sledgehammer, will be immortalized on a "Forever" postage stamp in 2012.
"It's an extraordinary honor for an extraordinary human being," said Stargell's widow, Margaret, 52, of New Bern, N.C. "I know Willie would be very humbled."
Stargell died in 2001 at age 61. The stamp will be part of the Postal Service's Major League Baseball All-Star Stamp set.
The slugger, who played 21 seasons from 1962 to 1982, led the 1979 "We Are Family" Pirates to a World Series championship and hit 475 career home runs. He pounded 2,232 career hits and twice led the National League in home runs -- 48 in 1971 and 44 in 1973. Baseball's Hall of Fame inducted him in 1988.
He joins Joe DiMaggio, one of the game's most graceful athletes, and Larry Doby, the American League's first black player, in the All-Star set. The postal service will announce a fourth stamp on Sept. 2. Los Angeles artist Kadir Nelson based their designs on historic photos.
The Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee recommended the players to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, a Pittsburgh native, said Stephen Kearney, executive director of stamp services. The committee gets 40,000 suggestions a year and "made a judgment call, just like an umpire," he said. "Willie earned it."
Pirates fan Joe Landolina, 53, of Squirrel Hill counts Stargell, with his windmill-style batter's windup, as his all-time favorite player.
"Some pitchers used to try to quick-pitch him in the middle of that swing and the next thing you know, they'd be turning their necks to watch (the ball) go over the wall," he said.