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Hall of Famer Willie Stargell dead at 61 after stroke

Kurkjian: 'Pops' forever a Pittsburgh presence

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Quotable Willie Stargell

Users remember Willie Stargell


Pittsburgh baseball
Jason Kendall is thankful for the guidance bestowed by Willie Stargell.
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Forever Pittsburgh
Pirates president Kevin McClatchy says Willie Stargell made it until the first game at new PNC Park.
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Monday, April 9, 2001
"Pops" always carried himself with class

Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, who led the Pirates to two World Series victories with his tape-measure homers, died of a stroke Monday at age 61. Colleagues remembered "Pops" for his leadership, heart and consistency. Here's what some former players and managers had to say about Stargell:

"I had to pitch against him a lot when I was with St. Louis, and if he was hot, I walked him, not a question." - former major leaguer Nellie Briles.

"He was a wonderful person, a great player and fun to be around." - Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox.

"Everyone remembers him because of that '79 team. If it weren't for him, they would not have even made the playoffs, let alone won the World Series," - Dr. Jim Hanlon, a suburban Pittsburgh surgeon who picked Stargell's No. 8 to wear to Pirates' fantasy baseball camp in Bradenton, Fla.

"I hurt my knee in 1964, and he was the first guy to visit me in the hospital when he got back from the road. And that's the way he behaved in the 10 years we played together. He was consistent. The true mark of the quality of a person is consistency." - Al Oliver, who played with Stargell on the 1971 World Series championship team.

"I saw him in spring training just before I was traded to the Cardinals in 1962. He had a great-looking swing from the get-go. I asked, 'Where did you find that youngster?'" - former Pirates shortstop Dick Groat.

"Willie was our crutch. Anything you needed, any problems you had personally or in baseball, he took the burden." - former teammate Bill Robinson.

"Pops, I remember him handing out stars to everyone. He was an outstanding player." - Mets manager Bobby Valentine.

"I'll always remember the grace with which he treated my brother and my father when they would visit the locker room, always kidding around. He really was this gentle giant." - former teammate Dave Giusti.

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