I was born a Mets fan in 1971, but I always respected Willie Stargell. You had no choice in the matter — the man could hit, he was the consummate professional athlete and team leader, and when all was said and done he played 20-plus years with the Pittsburgh Pirates. By the time I knew who he was, he was nearing the end — he came up with the Pirates in ‘62 and played 10 seasons with Roberto Clemente. Not that he was anywhere near done. A key member of the 1971 World Champions, he was the undisputed leader of the 1979 We Are Family champs, and was named NL MVP at the age of 39.
Stargell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988, and died far too young in 2001. Happy birthday, Pops.