21 July 2014

a pirates' memorial patch for pops

willie stargell wrapped up his hall of fame career for the pirates in 1982.  his performance had declined rather swiftly following the team's championship 1979 season, in which stargell shared league mvp honors with the cardinals' keith hernandez.  stargell was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter in 1982, appearing in just 74 games and hitting only 3 home runs that year.

topps decided not to issue a card of the pirate great in 1983, but donruss did
as did fleer
i appreciate the full career stats on the back of the fleer card, and i also like the text on the back of the donruss card that acknowledges stargell's retirement.  not a bad pair of final tributes.

sadly, stargell passed away in 2001 on april 9, putting a damper on the pirates' home opener and debut of pnc park.  in response to his death, the pirates added a memorial patch to their jerseys for the remainder of the season.  it recalled the 'stargell stars' that were handed out to players by pops in recognition of a great play.  you can see the patch on tony mcknight's 2002 fleer tradition card
and on aramis ramirez's 2002 topps total card
here's a closer look at the patch
which shows up again on ramirez's 2002 upper deck pros & prospects card
that's the one in my memorials binder.  the pirates brought the stargell stars back for the playoffs last year, but were quickly told by the powers that be that they were uniform violations.  i'm glad bowie kuhn didn't care about that back in 1979 - i can't imagine the pirates' hats without the stars.  or the pirates without stargell for that matter.