Friday, December 18, 2009
CT CotD-1969 Topps Willie Stargell
Good morning collectors! Time for a quick card of the day post before working another double shift… The exciting thing about today is it is a split double-1st and 3rd shift. The reason is Mrs. Troll is graduating tonight!!! With honors, as you can imagine I am mega-proud! Pictures will probably follow. Anyway, the card of the day comes from the 1969 Topps set, card #545 of Pittsburgh Pirates leftfielder Willie Stargell. I picked this card because Willie had a very off year (for him) in ’68 ('68 was the year of the pitcher), but bounced back huge in ’69 and he was just getting started. Stargell was an All Star 3 times in his 20s, but he really came into his own in his thirties. He was an All Star 4 times, but was in the top-10 in All Star voting 7 times from 30 on up. When he finally won the MVP Award he was 39 years old and he didn’t just win the MVP, he won the NLCS MVP, the World Series MVP, the Major League Player of the Year, the Babe Ruth Award and he and the Pirates won the World Championship. That would also be his final full season in the big leagues. I am getting ahead of myself though… In ’69 Stargell was 29 and he had bounced back from a year (1968) where he hit just .237 with 67 RBI. In ’69 he raised his batting average 70 points (.307-8th in NL), raised his slugging percentage 115 points to .556 (4th in NL) and drove in 24 more runs. The back of the card mentions that on June 24, 1965 Willie belted 3 homers in one game. It is unusual that it only mentions that one time because he also did it in 1968-hitting 3 homers on 5/22/68. Of course he did it twice more after that, too. The back of the card also mentions: Pittsburgh’s slugging star set the club record for homeruns by a left-handed batter when he clouted 33 round trippers in 1966. Last year Willie topped the Bucs with 24 homers.” He would top the Bucs in homers many more times and he topped the NL in homeruns twice (’71,’73), too. He also raised the club record from 33 up to 48 homers in 1971. Willie Stargell was the greatest slugger in Pirates history-he owns the club record with 475 career longballs (28th All-Time) and he did it with grace, class and without steroids. Maybe the most impressive thing is that he spent 24 years with the Pirates organization, never playing for another team. From the time he signed as an 18-year-old in 1958 till his final game in 1982, he was a Pirate. As a fan I only knew of Willie “Pops” Stargell, the elder, veteran leader of the “We Are Family” teams-I like looking back at this youthful Stargell, 7 years into his career, optimistic, but with no idea he would be one of the greatest to ever play the game. I love this hobby! Troll out.