Today marks the anniversary of the Pittsburgh Pirates retiring Willie Stargell’s #8 jersey. On September 6th, 1982, Three Rivers Stadium hosted its highest attended game of the season when the Bucs squared off against the New York Mets. Despite it being a Monday night game and both teams being on the bottom end of their division, over 38,000 fans crammed into Three Rivers Stadium to watch the retiring of one of their team’s most decorated players. The packed house also help the Pirates beat the Mets 6-1 .
Stargell, aka “Pops”, still holds the Pirates record for most home runs, runs batted in and extra base hits for a career. The left-handed Stargell hit 475 home runs with the Pirates, but that number could have been significantly higher if he didn’t play his first 9 seasons at Forbes Field, which housed a left-center wall that measured 457 feet from home plate. In addition to leading the club in HRs, RBIs and extra base hits, Stargell is in the organization’s top ten of basically every other offensive category, including total games played and at-bats. He won two World Series rings with the Pirates, one in ’71 and another in ’79. Ironically, despite playing his entire twenty one season career (‘62 – ’82) with the Pirates, upon retiring, Stargell took a job with the Atlanta Braves as the team’s Manager.
In 1988, Eight years after the Pirates retired his number, Willie “Pops” Stargell was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a first ballot Hall of Famer.