Pirates legend Willie "Pops" Stargell, who intimidated opposing pitchers by swinging a sledgehammer, will be immortalized on a "Forever" postage stamp in 2012.
"It's an extraordinary honor for an extraordinary human being," said Stargell's widow, Margaret, 52, of New Bern, N.C. "I know Willie would be very humbled."
Stargell died in 2001 at age 61. The stamp will be part of the Postal Service's Major League Baseball All-Star Stamp set.
The slugger, who played 21 seasons from 1962 to 1982, led the 1979 "We Are Family" Pirates to a World Series championship and hit 475 career home runs. He pounded 2,232 career hits and twice led the National League in home runs -- 48 in 1971 and 44 in 1973. Baseball's Hall of Fame inducted him in 1988.
He joins Joe DiMaggio, one of the game's most graceful athletes, and Larry Doby, the American League's first black player, in the All-Star set. The postal service will announce a fourth stamp on Sept. 2. Los Angeles artist Kadir Nelson based their designs on historic photos.
The Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee recommended the players to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, a Pittsburgh native, said Stephen Kearney, executive director of stamp services. The committee gets 40,000 suggestions a year and "made a judgment call, just like an umpire," he said. "Willie earned it."
Pirates fan Joe Landolina, 53, of Squirrel Hill counts Stargell, with his windmill-style batter's windup, as his all-time favorite player.
"Some pitchers used to try to quick-pitch him in the middle of that swing and the next thing you know, they'd be turning their necks to watch (the ball) go over the wall," he said.
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