Willie Stargell’s Hall of Fame career included six trips to the postseason that resulted in two World Series championship. Stargell’s Pirates reached October in five of the first six years of the 1970s, and again in the final year of the decade.
Many remember the ’79 “We Are Family” Pirates led by the then-39 year old slugger who was called “Pops” by his teammates. However, Stargell’s first taste of the Fall Classic came with the 1971 Pittsburgh squad.
Willie’s best game of the Series came in Game 4. With his team trailing 2-games-to-1, a loss would put them on the brink of elimination. The Orioles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Stargell came up in the bottom half of the inning with two out and Dave Cash on first. The Pittsburgh slugger doubled to right-center to drive in Cash. Centerfielder Al Oliver then doubled in Stargell to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Pirates held Baltimore scoreless the rest of the way while pushing across a run in the 3rd and another in the 7th to win the game 4-3. Games 6 and 7 were also one-run affairs in a thrilling rendition of baseball’s showcase event.
Above is a letter from baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Baseball’s chief writes about October baseball.
“The World Series is the premier event of American Sports.
“No other event has been able to capture it’s special appeal or match its magnificent history.”
Baseball’s chief then references the Pirates victory that earned Stargell his first ring.
“Never in the previous 68 Series has its penchant for dramatics been better displayed than in the superb 1971 encounter between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles.”