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Willie Stargell

Age: 61

one of baseball's greatest home-run hitters and the intimidating but amicable leader of the great Pittsburgh Pirates teams of the 1970s; nicknamed "Pops" after naturally inheriting his role as patriarch of the Pirates family after the death of teammate Roberto Clemente in 1972; 6-4, 225-pound left-handed outfielder and cleanup hitter often overlooked in discussions of baseball's most prolific home-run hitters; hit 475 career home runs, and at one point in his career held the record for the longest homer in nearly half of the N.L. parks; historians agree the left-handed hitter's HR total would have reached 600 if not for the fact that the Pirates played at Forbes Field (with its giant right-field power alley of 436 feet) for the first 81/2 of his 21 seasons with the team; for 30 years he was the only player to hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium (he did it twice); won N.L. pennants and World Series titles in 1971 and 1979; won six N.L. East titles from 1970-79; holds team records for home runs, extra-base hits and RBI; in 1979, at age 39, he had an unprecedented sweep of MVP awards (sharing regular season, playoffs, World Series); oldest player to be named MVP; led the N.L in home runs twice and RBI once; retired in 1982; career: .282–475–1,540; despite a long battle with a kidney disorder he had coaching stints with the Pirates and Braves; inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988; a 12-foot bronze statue in his honor was unveiled in 2001, two days before the first game at PNC Park. He died of a stroke.

Died: Wilmington, N.C, April 9

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