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Item 6 of 14

Located in front of PNC Park’s Left Field Gate, this statue commemorates Pittsburgh Pirates Hall-of-Fame slugger Willie Stargell (1940-2001). A native of Oklahoma who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, he spent his entire twenty-one-year major league career with the team, during which he earned a reputation as a feared power hitter. The seven-time All-Star hit at least twenty homeruns in thirteen consecutive seasons (1964-1976) and helped power the Pirates to two World Series titles (1971 & 1979). For his performance throughout the 1979 regular and postseason, Stargell became the first player in major league history to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award, the National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award, and the World Series Most Valuable Player Award in the same year. In September 2000, the Pirates announced plans to unveil a statue outside PNC Park prior to the stadium’s inaugural game and the home opener of the 2001 season. Designed by artist Susan Wagner in cooperation with the Pittsburgh-based architectural firm of L.D. Astorino & Associates Ltd., the twelve-foot-tall bronze sculpture depicts Stargell in his batting stance, ready to receive a pitch. Dedicated on April 7, 2001, it rests on a circular granite base decorated with stars, and features a quote from Stargell describing his first impression of Pittsburgh when he arrived in 1962: “Last night, coming in from the airport, we came through the tunnel and the city opened up its arms and I felt at home.” Unable to attend the ceremony due to declining health, Stargell died two days later at the age of sixty-one.


  • Building, Sculpture, Statue, Window
  • Sports uniform, Sports equipment, Baseball bat, Sports gear

Wilver “Willie” Dornel Stargell was born on March 6, 1940 in the tiny town of Earlsboro, Oklahoma. Prior to Stargell’s birth, his father abandoned his mother, forcing her to raise a newborn alone. A few years later, his mother remarried and moved with her young son to California. The marriage quickly fell apart, and Stargell and his mother sought refuge with a relative in the public housing projects of Alameda. In 1946, his mother married a third time, and while she and her new husband became financially stable, Stargell went to live with his aunt in Orlando, Florida. After residing with his mother’s older sister for six years, during which time he suffered from abuse and neglect, he returned to live with his mother in California. There, on the ballfields of the projects, Stargell not only developed into an athletic, strong teenager, but also acquired a love for the game. At Alameda’s Encinal High School, he starred on the baseball team along side two other future major leaguers, Tommy Harper and Curt Motton. 

In August 1958, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Stargell to a professional contract. After a few seasons in the minor leagues, he received a late-season call up to the majors in 1962, embarking on what would become a twenty-one-year big league career. During that time, Stargell earned a reputation as a feared power hitter. In thirteen consecutive seasons, from 1964 to 1976, he hit at least twenty homeruns. In 1971, Stargell belted a league-leading forty-eight homers, helping to power the Pirates to the World Series, where the team defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games. Two years later, he led all National League players in doubles (43), homeruns (44), and RBIs (119), but finished second in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award. In 1979, Stargell led the Pirates back to the World Series. Behind its left-handed slugger’s three homeruns, four doubles, and seven RBIs, the team once again bested the Baltimore Orioles in seven games. For his performance throughout the regular and postseason, Stargell became the first player in major league history to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award, the National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award, and the World Series Most Valuable Player Award in the same year. Following the 1982 major league season, Stargell retired from the game. He finished his major league career with 475 homeruns, 2,232 hits, and 1,540 RBIs. Six years later, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America elected him to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. 

Stargell, however, was more than simply an offensive weapon for the Pirates. He was also a charismatic leader who made the game fun for his teammates and fans. Following the tragic death of Roberto Clemente in 1972, Stargell became the team’s de facto leader. For his role in the clubhouse and veteran status, he earned the nickname “Pops.” Beginning in the 1978 season, Stargell began distributing “Stargell Stars” to his teammates for achievements during games, such as hitting a homerun or making a spectacular defensive play. Players then affixed the embroidered gold stars to their caps and wore them with pride throughout the season. 

In September 2000, the Pirates announced plans to unveil a statue outside PNC Park prior to the stadium’s inaugural game and the home opener of the 2001 season. Designed by artist Susan Wagner in cooperation with the Pittsburgh-based architectural firm of L.D. Astorino & Associates Ltd., the twelve-foot-tall bronze sculpture depicts Stargell in his batting stance, ready to receive a pitch. Dedicated on April 7, 2001 in front of PNC Park’s Left Field Gate, it rests on a circular granite base decorated with stars, and features a quote from Stargell describing his first impression of Pittsburgh when he arrived in 1962: “Last night, coming in from the airport, we came through the tunnel and the city opened up its arms and I felt at home.” Unable to attend the ceremony due to declining health, Stargell died two days later at the age of sixty-one. 

Berry, Adam. "History Behind Pirates Statues at PNC Park: Wagner, Clemente, Stargell, Mazeroski Immortalized in Bronze." mlb.com. Major League Baseball. 5 December 2020. Web. 8 June 2021 <https://www.mlb.com/news/pirates-statues-at-pnc-park-history>.

Collier, Gene. "Obituary: Willie Stargell: Numbers Couldn't Measure the Man." Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, April 10, 2001 <http://old.post-gazette.com/obituaries/20010410stargell2.asp>.

Forr, James. "Willie Stargell." sabr.org. Society for American Baseball Research. Web. 8 June 2021 <https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/willie-stargell/>.

Gigler, Dan. "Stargell's Image Forever Cast in Bronze Outside PNC Park." Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. April 8, 2001 <https://old.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20010408stargell2.asp>.

"Willie Stargell." baseballhall.org. National Baseball Hall of Fame. Web. 8 June 2021 <https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/stargell-willie>.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wilver_(Willie)_Stargell_Statue_(9370434395).jpg

https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/stargell-willie