Tag: Sports

#SaturdayStamps: Willie Stargell

To Pirates fans, he was known affectionately as Pops, leader of The Family. Born in 1940, Wilver Dornell Stargell hit 475 home runs in a career that was honored with induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1988.

On April 7, 2001, the Pirates had planned to unveil a 12-foot high statue of Stargell outside their new PNC Park. Stargell was too sick to attend the ceremony and it was postponed until April 9. Stargell died April 9, 2001, at the age of 61 after a long battle with illness.

Stargell delivered his first home run in Major League Baseball on May 8, 1963 in a game the Pirates lost 9-5 to the Cubs. It was the first of many homers in his career including four hit into the upper deck of Three Rivers stadium, seven hit over the rightfield roof of Forbes Field, two hit completely out of Dodgers Stadium and one estimated at 535 feet at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

Stargell’s role as a leader for the Pirates began during the 1964 season. It was the first of 13 consecutive seasons in which he would hit 20 or more home runs. That year marked his first appearance in the All-Star Game. He was All-Star six more times in his career.

Other career feats for Stargell:

  • 1964  —  On July 22, 1964, Stargell hit for the cycle.
  • 1970  —  Stargell tied a Major League record with five extra-base hits in one game.
  • 1971 —  Stargell set an April record with 11 home runs. He finished the season with 48 home runs and 125 runs batted in.
  • 1973  —  Following the death of Roberto Clemente, Stargell became the Pirates’ leader. He hit .299 with 44 home runs and 119 runs batted in.
  • 1974  —  Stargell played his last full season in the outfield, hitting .301 with 25 HR and 96 RBIs.
  • 1975  —  The Pirates beat the Phillies by 6.5 games to win the NL East. Stargell hit .295 with 22 HR and 90 RBIs during the regular season, but managed only 2 hits in 11 at-bats during the NLCS loss to the Reds. Stargell made the move from the outfield to first base after suffering knee injuries.
  • 1976  —  Stargell hit .257 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs. The Pirates finished 5 games behind the Phillies.
  • 1977  —  An elbow injury brought Stargell’s  streak of 13 consecutive seasons with 20 or more home runs to an end. Without Stargell, the Pirates finished 5 games behind the Phillies. Stargell managed 13 home runs in 63 games.
  • 1978  —  Stargell his .295 with 28 home runs and 97 RBIs. The numbers earned him The Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year.
  • 1979  —  Stargell served as team captain in a year that the Pirates won the pennant. He hit .281 with 32 home runs and 82 RBIs. In the World Series, he collected 25 total bases and seven extra-base hits, including three home runs. He won three major MVP honors that season — he shared the NL MVP with Keith Hernandez. and he was named MVP of the National League Championship Series and the World Series. He was named Sporting News Man of the Year and Sports Illustrated’s Co-Man of the Year (along with Terry Bradshaw.)  The Pirates faced elimination going into the fifth game. However, the Pirates rallied and Stargell’s home run in the seventh game capped off a series in which he hit .400.
  • 1980 —  He suffered a knee injury and missed part of the season. Stargell played in 67 games, hitting 11 HR with 38 RBI.
  • 1981  —  Willie Stargell took just 38 at-bats that season, driving in 9 runs.
  • 1982  —  Stargell retired as the Pirates’ career leader in home runs, RBIs and eight other categories. That season, Stargell hit .233 with 3 home runs and 17 RBI.
  • 1985  —  Following a Pirates drug scandal, Stargell returned to the Pirates as a coach and as a way to help rebuild confidence in the organization.
  • 1986 —  Manager Chuck Tanner left to take over the Atlanta Braves and Stargell followed him to serve as first base coach, hitting coach and, later, as a Special Assistant to the Director of Player Development.
  • 1988  —  Stargell was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibilty. The Pirates retired his number.
  • 1997  —  Stargell returned to work as an aide to the general manager. He was diagnosed with a kidney disorder.

SOURCE: Baseball Online Library, Baseball-Reference, The Sports Encyclopedia

#SaturdayStamps: Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born prematurely on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, the 20th of 22 children born to dad Ed across his two marriages. She went on to become a pioneering African-American track and field champion, but the road to victory was not an easy one for Wilma Rudolph. Stricken with double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio as a child, she had problems with her left leg and had to wear a brace. It was with great determination and the help of physical therapy that she was able to overcome her disabilities.

Growing up in the segregated South, Rudolph attended the all-black Burt High School, where she played on the basketball team. A naturally gifted runner, she was soon recruited to train with Tennessee State University track coach Ed Temple.

Pioneering Olympic Medalist

Nicknamed “Skeeter” for her famous speed, Wilma Rudolph qualified for the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. The youngest member of the U.S. track and field team at age 16, she won a bronze medal in the 400-meter relay. After finishing high school, Rudolph enrolled at Tennessee State University, where she studied education. She also trained hard for the next Olympics.

Held in Rome, Italy, the 1960 Olympic Games were a golden time for Rudolph. After tying a world record with her time of 11.3 seconds in the 100-meter semifinals, she won the event with her wind-aided mark of 11.0 seconds in the final. Similarly, Rudolph broke the Olympic record in the 200-meter dash (23.2 seconds) in the heats before claiming another gold medal with her time of 24.0 seconds. She was also part of the U.S. team that established the world record in the 400-meter relay (44.4 seconds) before going on to win gold with a time of 44.5 seconds. As a result, Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympic Games. The first-class sprinter instantly became one of the most popular athletes of the Rome Games as well as an international superstar, lauded around the world for her groundbreaking achievements.

Following the Games, Rudolph made numerous appearances on television and received several honors, including the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year Award in both 1960 and 1961. She retired from competition not long after, and went on to teach, coach and run a community center, among other endeavors, though her accomplishments on the Olympic track remained her best known.

Later Years, Death and Legacy

Rudolph shared her remarkable story with her 1977 autobiography, Wilma, which was turned into a TV film later that year. In the 1980s, she was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and established the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to promote amateur athletics. She died on November 12, 1994, in Brentwood, Tennessee, after losing a battle with brain cancer.

Rudolph is remembered as one of the fastest women in track and as a source of great inspiration for generations of athletes. She once stated, “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”

10 Things I’d Rather Do Than Watch Football


Football season is upon us once again and there are millions of women out there like me who could really care less. While we might be used to being alienated during this time of year, it doesn’t mean that we like it. So, my way of paying homage to those who like football is to write about things we can do instead, for those of us who don’t like football: 1

. Go to the gym – what better way to protest football then to try and look like those who actually play it!

2. Go shopping – watching football at home maybe free, but there’s always a price to pay

3. Wash my hair – this may not sound like a big deal but washing my hair takes about the same amount of time as it does for the Buffalo Bills to lose

4. Catch up with an old friend – going to brunch or even an early dinner with an old friend is a good way to kill the time. At least this way I’m investing in someone who actually knows me rather than supporting an athlete who doesn’t even know I exist

5. Watch a movie – movie theaters are open every day, all day long. Just like watching football is for sheer entertainment purposes only, so is going to the movies

6. Get my nails done – as a woman it’s important that I keep myself looking fresh. So while you men watch your favorite athletes get pulverized, I’ll be watching my nails get painted

7. Read a book – I love to read it. I don’t need football season to get me in the mood to read a good book, however at least when I’m reading I feel like I’m learning something.

8. Take a nap – 3 to 4 hours is the perfect length of time to take a nap. I can wake up feeling well rested & ready for whatever else the day may bring! Watching football can take a lot of energy out of you (especially if your team loses) but after a nap you feel refreshed

9. Spend quality time with myself – there’s nothing more important than investing in ones’ self


10. Go to church – Sunday is synonymous with football but more importantly it’s the day that you’re supposed to go to church. Spending 2 to 3 hours with the Lord never hurt anybody and at least you know that playing on His team, you’ll always win


What kind of things do you do instead of watching football?

Use That Voice!

Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ Colin!

In the immediate aftermath of Colin Kaepernick’s first protest of the national anthem, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he believed in the right to free speech, but also wanted to make sure everyone knew he was a genuine star-spangled patriot (if not a Patriot).

But in discussing the continued displays over the weeks since, Goodell said he appreciates the social conscience of players who choose to speak out, hoping they can use their voices in a way to solve some problems.

“As I’ve said before, I truly respect our players wanting to speak out and change the community,” Goodell said, via Ben Goessling of ESPN.com. “We don’t live in a perfect society. We want them to use that voice. They’re moving from protests to progress and trying to make things happen in the communities, and I admire that about our players [being] willing to do that.”

The phrase “from protests to progress” sounds Frank Luntz-style focus-group approved, but it’s at least a recognition that protests are happening. Goodell said he has not spoke with Kaepernick since the 49ers quarterback began sitting, then kneeling for the national anthem to bring attention to racism and police brutality.

“Obviously, we want to respect people,” Goodell said. “We want to respect our differences. We want to reflect our flag and our country, and our players understand that. So I think where they’re moving and how they’re moving there is very productive, and we’re going to encourage that.”

While it’s not exactly a stirring call to arms, it’s at least a recognition that enough players are willing to say something that it’s going to be hard to keep them all from doing so.


*Originally published on NBC Sports.

African American Jockeys

Think of the greatest American sports stars of all time and names like Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali and Serena Williams will likely spring to mind.

But long before these champions smashed the record books — and blazed a trail in the public’s imagination — the first generation of African American U.S. athletes dominated an unlikely sport.

The godfathers of Owens, Ali and Williams weren’t stereotypical towering, musclebound men found on basketball courts or in boxing rings.

Instead, they were the jockeys of the race track and their dizzying success — and dramatic fall — is one of the most remarkable buried chapters in U.S. sporting history.

When the country’s most prestigious horse race, the Kentucky Derby, launched in 1875, 13 of the 15 jockeys were African-American.

Much like the NBA today, black athletes dominated horse racing for the next three decades, winning 15 of the first 28 Derbies.

“They were the premier horsemen in the world,” says Joe Drape, author of “Black Maestro,” which tells the story of champion jockey Jimmy Winkfield.

“It was the first professional sport for African-American athletes in America. They were at the forefront of horse racing and it was a place where they could earn a good living.”

Decades before Jackie Robinson made history in 1947 as the first African-American major league baseball player, African American jockeys forged a name as the first sports heroes of post-Civil War America.

The son of a former slave, Isaac Murphy was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies — in 1884, 1890, 1891. He went on to win an unheard-of 44% of all his competitions, becoming the first rider inducted into the National Racing Hall of fame.

“Murphy was the first millionaire black athlete,” Drape told CNN. “He even had a white valet.”

Many of these jockeys had been slaves in the South, working as stable hands and becoming skilled horse handlers.

Plantation owners put them on the backs of horses in informal — and dangerous — competitions. When horse racing became an organized sport in the early 19th-Century, African-American jockeys were already leaders in the saddle.

Yet fast forward to today and you’d struggle to find an African-American jockey on a U.S. race track.

Just 30 of the around 750 members of the national Jockey’s Guild are African-American, according to the most recent figures available. That’s less than 5%

Winkfield was the last African American to win the Kentucky Derby — in 1901 and 1902 — and by 1921 they had all but disappeared.

It would be 79 years before another black rider, Marlon St. Julien, competed in 2000.

The introduction of the Jim Crow laws in the late 1880s — segregating African-American and whites — spelled an end to the golden era of jockeys like Winkfield and Murphy.

Increasing violence against African-American jockeys forced many to abandon racing and move to northern urban areas, says Drape.

“It became too dangerous to put African-American riders on horses,” he added. “An influx of Irish immigrants were now slugging it out on the track, riding African-American jockeys into railings and making them fall.”

Other riders, such as Winkfield, fled to Russia — which had a thriving horse racing industry.

“The Russians were colorblind, you had jazz players and heavyweight boxers like Jack Johnson — it was basically the last place African-American sportsmen could go,” Drape said.

He was treated like a celebrity, socializing with aristocrats in Tzar Nicholas II’s court and marrying two white European countesses.

Decades later, segregation still ruled America, and when Sports Illustrated invited Winkfield to a reception at the Brown Hotel in Louisville in 1961, he was told he couldn’t enter by the front door.

Today, Deshawn Parker is perhaps the most successful of the few African-American jockeys competing in the states, boasting more than 4,000 career victories.

The 42-year-old, who won the most U.S. events in 2010 and 2011, entered the sport after his father worked as a racing official.

“African-American aren’t on the track like they used to be,” he said. “If you don’t have someone in your family who’s in the business, you don’t have a reason to start racing.”

Parker, the 54th-ranked jockey of all time, says racing is now dominated by Latinos.

Terry Meyock, national manager of the Jockey’s Guild, agreed, estimating that 60% of jockeys in the U.S. are Latinos.

Of the current top-10 highest earning jockeys, nine are from South America.

“From African-American to Irish to Latino, jockeys in America tend to mirror immigration,” Drape said.

“The conditions are the same as 200 years ago — the best jockeys tend to be from rural countries, they grow up around horses, it’s tradition and it’s a family business.”

For Parker, jockeys like Murphy and Winkfield didn’t just change the face of racing — they paved the way for generations of African-American sports stars.

“They got African-American athletes in the door,” he said. “It’s an honor to be ranked among them.”

*Originally posted on CNN.