Willie Stargell was the leader of a close-knit group of Pirates known as “We Are Family”. He helped the younger players with helpful hints, tips, and what it takes to be a major leaguer. At the start of the 1979 season, the Philadelphia Phillies were picked by most experts to win the NL East. Most of the so-called “experts” didn’t think the Pirates had what it took to beat the Phillies. The Pirates had the talent, but they needed a leader. Willie Stargell was the man to step up and assume the role of leader.
The Pittsburgh Pirates struggled early on as the season began, but Stargell boosted team morale by awarding “Stargell Stars” to anyone (including the team’s hitter or manager), who would step up and make a positive contribution. to the team. . He also adopted a popular disco song at the time for the team called “Somos familia”. This song would become the team’s catchphrase and became popular with Pirate fans. Soon, the song was played during the seventh inning stretch at the Pirates’ home games. Soon, the “We’re Family” mania took off. The Pirates responded with a nine-game winning streak and moving to one game behind the first-place Expos in July.
Willie Stargell was 38 years old, but despite his age, Stargell was still productive and making key contributions on the field. He was still landing clutch blows and making key plays during critical games in the division race. When the Pirates and Expos met in a key divisional game on September 18, it was time for Stargell to make it big again. With the game tied 3–3 going into the 11th inning, Stargell hit a game-winning two-run home run. A week later, Willie beat the Expos again by hitting two home runs this time! Just to put the icing on the cake, Willie Stargell hit a solo home run that helped his team clinch the NL East title.
Stargell always played his best during big games. In the National League Championship game, he hit a home run in the 11th inning of game 1 to put the Pirates ahead in the series. In the pennant game, Willie Stargell scored three more runs to send the Pirates to the World Series.
You wouldn’t think Stargell could improve, but in the World Series he managed to do just that. He led his team in hits, runs, home runs and RBIs. In the seventh inning of game 7 against the Baltimore Orioles, Stargell came to the plate with his team trailing 1-0. On a 2-0 pitch, Willie Stargell got the pitch he’d been waiting for and sent a game-winning home run over the fence.
Stargell, through his decisive hitting and team leadership in the clubhouse, demonstrated that hard work and determination (along with a lot of talent) can bring a team together and become world champions.