Willie Stargell Bio: Career, Net Worth, MLB & Legacy

Willie Stargell is a familiar name in the baseball world. Willie, or “Pops,” as you like to call him, was an American professional baseball player.

He played at the left fielder and the first baseman position. Willie had a remarkable 21-season career in Major League Baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Willie was one of the most outstanding power hitters in the history of baseball. The man was at his best during the 1970s decade.

Notably, He had the most home runs of any player in the decade. Willie accumulated an average of .282 with 2,232 hits, 1,194 runs, 423 doubles, 475 home runs, and 1,540 runs batted in.

willie-stargell-playing-for-the-Pittsburgh-Pirates
Willie Stargell playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Remarkably, Willie won the NL MVP, the NL Championship Series MVP, and the World Series MVP awards, all in a single 1979 season. He is the single player in baseball history to do so.

Staggering fact! The Hall of Famer has an incredible life journey. His story can inspire anyone related or non-related to the game.

“Judgment traps you within the limitations of your comparisons. It inhibits freedom.” -Willie Stargell

So follow through to the end of the article to know more about it.

Quick Facts

Full NameWilver Dornell Stargell
Birth DateMarch 6, 1940
Death DateApril 9, 2001
Died ofHeart Disease
Birth PlaceEarlsboro, Oklahoma, U.S.
NicknamePops
ReligionChristianity
NationalityAmerican
EthnicityBlack
EducationEncinal High School
HoroscopePisces
Father’s NameWilliam Stargell
Mother’s NameGladys Vernell Stargell
SiblingsNA
AgeDied at 61 years old 
Height6 feet 2 inches (188 cm)
Weight90 kg (198 lbs)
BuildBulky
Eye colorDark Brown
Hair ColorBlack
ProfessionBaseball Player
Playing PositionLeft Fielder, First Batsman
Active years  (Senior Career)1962-1982
TeamPittsburgh Pirates
Jersey Number8
Sexual OrientationStraight
Marital StatusDivorced
WivesDee Stargell
Margaret Weller (m. 1993-2001)
ChildrenOne son & Three Daughters
SonWillie Jr
DaughtersKelli, Dawn Moore, Precious Stargell
Net Worth$10 million
Salary$6000
MerchTrading Cards, Book
Last UpdateJuly, 2022

Willie Stargell: Early Life, Family, and Education

Willie was born in Earlsboro, Oklahoma, on March 6, 1940. He was the son of Gladys Vernell Stargell and William Stargell. The Stargell couple divorced, which resulted in Willie living with his aunt.

Eventually, he started living with his mother in Alameda, California. Willie went to Encinal High School in California. He joined the school’s baseball team that included future baseball stars Tommy Harper and Curt Motton.

Willie Stargell: Baseball Career

Early Career

His career started with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Subsequently, he started playing minor league baseball.

During the early stages, he developed his skills with the nursery clubs in New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa.

Willie had to face a lot of racial hardships during his early days in baseball. He could not stay in the same hotels as the white players.

Instead, he had to lodge in the poor black areas. In particular, a man threatened Willie with a gun not to play the game that night. However, nothing happened even after Willie ignored it.

Willie Stargell: Professional career

Willie had earned a lot of admirers in Pittsburgh by his charisma and playing style. People began to recognize him by the name “Willie.” However, he preferred his original name, “Wilver.”

Style of play

Willie looked bigger than other batters because of his height, long arms, and unique way of holding the bat. He used to hold only the knob of the bat, which provided extra bat extension for home run swings.

Willie would be seen warming up with a sledgehammer in the on-deck circle. He would swerve his bat until the pitcher threw the ball.

Debut and early days

1962 was Willie’s debut season in Major League Baseball. But the success came to him after some seasons. He started as the Pirates’ regular left-fielder.

The home run at Shea Stadium in April 1964 was his first. Willie also played the All-Star games in the season.

Willie Stargell is training at the Pirates.
Willie Stargell is training at the Pirates.

In the next two seasons, Willis hit over 100 RBIs. He became the NL Player of the Month in June 1965. Later, he had to face overweight problems in 1967.

Consequently, his performance degraded, and he ended the season with only 20 home runs. A personal trainer helped him to regain his performance level by 1969.

Title wins

Willie started improving from the beginning of the 70s. In 1970, he hit a .264 average with 31 home runs and 85 RBIs. The Pirates won the National League East title in the same season.

Willie won his first home run title in 1971, beating Hank Aaron. Besides, he bagged two NL Player of the Month awards in April and June of the same year.

willie-stargell-honor
Willie Stargell’s career honors.

The Pirates won the 1971 World Championship beating the Baltimore Orioles. Willie played all seven games securing the 4-3 win.

Improvements

Willie was on the run to improve his stats every season. He batted .293 on average with 33 home runs and 112 RBIs in 1972. Stargell bagged his second home run title in 1973. 

However, he lost the MVP award to Pete Rose. Since 1975 Willie started playing at the first base position. His 400th career home run came against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1977.

Having Willie Stargell on your ball club is like having a diamond ring on your finger.

In 1979, the Pirates again won the World Series. Willie earned the MVP award in the NCLS and also the World Series. He set the record of seven extra-base hits and four doubles for 25 total bases.

In the same elite season, Willie won the MLB’s MVP award. It made him the only player to win all three MVP honors in the same season.

Final Days

After having the best season in 1979, Willie’s MLB career was on the verge of its end. After 74 games in 1979, he retired. With a total of 475 home runs, Stargell hit 310 of those in his thirties.

Long home runs

During his career, Willie made many records for the longest home runs in many of the NL parks. The longest at Dodger Stadium as his 507 feet home run in 1969.

He hit the longest of 535 feet in Veterans Stadium history in 1971. He struck the seven of the 18 balls that went over the Forbes Field’s stands.

Willie Stargell watches the ball he hit for a home run
Willie Stargell watches the ball he hit for a home run.

Willie’s restaurant in the Hill District of Pittsburgh gave away a free chicken to all present in the restaurant every time he hit a home run.

Willie Stargel: Post-playing life

Willie served as the first base coach for the Atlanta Braves during 1986-1988. Later, he also spent some of his years as a hitting coach for a minor league team, Chipper Jones.

However, his former club, the Pirates, did not consider him for the managerial job in 1988.

Drug scandal

Willie’s former Pirates teammates accused him of distributing amphetamines to the players. Dale Berra, one of them, said that he also obtained the drug from Stargell and Bill Madlock.

However, Willie firmly denied the allegation. Later, the accusations were proved wrong by a Commissioner.

Rejoining the Pirates

Willie served as an assistant to the Pirates’ general manager in 1997. He also worked for the Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy as a special baseball advisor.

Willie Stargell: Death

For a long time, Willie was suffering from a kidney disorder. Likewise, he has also had hypertension and heart failure.

Stargell died on April 9, 2001, in a hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina. Complications related to a stroke were the immediate reason for his death.

Willie Stargell: Awards and Honors

Willies’ number 8 jersey was retired by the Pirates in 1982. The seven-time All-Star had received Roberto Clemente Award in 1974.

Specifically, he has been an NL home run leader two times and an RBI leader for one time. Willie became the Baseball Hall of Fame inductee in 1988.

Willie Stargell's statue at PNC Park.
Willie Stargell’s statue at PNC Park.

His team of life unveiled a larger-than-life statue of him at its new stadium, PNC Park, two days before his death. The Sporting News rated him 81st on the list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

Willie Stargell: Wife and Children

Pops married Dee Stargell, with whom he had a son and a daughter. Kelli and Willie Jr. were their children. The couple divorced later. In 1993, Willie married Margaret Weller.

Later, they gave birth to two daughters. They were Dawn Moore and Precious Stargell. However, there is not much information about any of Willie’s children. He had a healthy relationship with Margaret until his death.

Willie Stargell: Net Worth and Salary

Baseball players’ earnings did not use to be as huge as it is now. Nowadays, on average, an MLB player earns $3.4 million annually.

But, things were not the same during those times. Willie had signed a $6000 per year contract with the Pirates in 1963.

Willie Stargell had a net worth of about $1.6 million in his late days. For all of his MLB career, he played only for the Pittsburgh Pirates. During his late days around 1999, Willie had to lose some of his fortunes in hospital bills.

Willies also formed the Black Athletes Foundation. The foundation raised money and public awareness about sickle cell anemia, which was a major health problem at those times.

The foundation was later renamed the Willie Stargell Foundation after his death.

You might be interested in buying Willie Stargell’s autographed items as a bat, cards, Jersey, and much more. Click to follow! 

Willie Stargel: Social Media Presence

Willie had already passed on before the dawn of social media. However, there is a Facebook and an Instagram page of the Willie Stargell Foundation.

The Willie Stargell Foundation Facebook: 1,941 Followers

The Willie Stargell Foundation Instagram: 205 Followers

Willie Stargell: You may want to know:

Where is Willie Stargell buried?

Willie Stargell died on April 9, 2001. His body was buried at the Oleander Memorial Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina. According to some sources, his memorial id is 21212.

Is there any biography written on Willie Stargell?

Stargell published an autobiography titled “Willie Stargell: An Autobiography” in 1984. Frank Garland wrote the book “Willie Stargell: A Life in Baseball” published in 2013.

Pops-The-Willie-Stargell-Story-book
“Pops: The Willie Stargell Story” book

Among all, the most popular is “Pops: The Willie Stargell Story,” authored by Richard Peterson in 2013.

What was Willie Stargell’s number?

Willie Stargell wore the number 8 jersey to win his whole career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Willie Stargell jersey at the Pirates.
Willie Stargell jersey at the Pirates.

The team retired the number in 1982.

What are Willie Stargell MLB career stats like? 

With the end of his career, Willie Stargell depicted the MLB career stats of 2,232 hits, 475 home runs, and a batting average of .282 with 1,540 runs batted in.

When was Willie Stargell’s last match? 

Willie Stargell’s last match was on October 3, 1982, at Three Rivers Stadium against the Montreal Expos. 

How much is Willie Stargell’s rookie card worth? 

To date, the most expensive Willie Stargell’s rookie card was sold in 2017 for $6000 while the cheapest was for only $1.25. 

If you are interested in those rookie cards, you can visit the link for more information. 

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