Wilmington Evening Journal - March 31, 1980

Stargell is still going strong at 39


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


CLEARWATER, FLA. – Twenty-one years ago in the unlikely hamlet of Roswell, N. M Wilver Dornell Stargell became a professional baseball player.


The Pirates gave him a few hundred dollars a month and no promises.


"If I had a promise, I would want it to be for good health," Stargell said. "Nothing was ever promised and I was willing to face the challenge."


Ah, yes, the challenge.


He has faced it, met it and conquered it. Willie Stargell is a marvelous human being, the type of person who pumps fresh air into any conversation. He turned 39 earlier this month, and it is a sad thought that he is in the final years of his career.


Willie Stargeil has been on both sides. He has lived through his glory moments with dignity, and in defeat he has held his head high and earned the respect of his rivals.


Yesterday at Bradenton, Stargell helped his Pirates to a 4-1 victory over the Phillies with a single, double and two RBI in an exhibition game that was called after 5½ innings because of rain.


Earlier, Stargell looked ahead to 1980, his 19th season with the Pittsburghs.


"I'm having a ball this spring," Stargell said. "My grand-daddy came down here and stayed with me for the first time. He's over 80 years old and shoots golf in the 80s. You know why he does that? Because he likes what he's doing. That's why I'm still playing baseball with these kids. I love the competition."


Stargell, at 38, won the Most Valuable Player Award in both the National League playoffs and the World Series. He shared the MVP for the season with Keith Hernandez of the St Louis Cardinals.


"I don't come to spring training with the idea of winning any titles, not the MVP, the home-run title or anything else," he said. "If it happens, that's fine and I am honored. But the big thing is the team, 'The Family. If the team wins, I'm happy no matter what I do individually. You can win all the awards on the earth, but it's nothing next to a world championship.


"When I think back to last season, all I think about is winning the championship. I like my MVP trophy, but I love this World Series ring. You know what I call it? I call it Blood, Sweat and Tears because that's what it took to win it."


SINCE SEPTEMBER of 1962, Willie Stargell has been with the Pirates – as a left fielder and a first baseman. He has hit 461 home runs, has collected 1,476 runs batted in and has a lifetime average of .283. He has played in 2,181 games.


"Baseball never changes," he said. "It starts out with little kids, like 5 or 10 years old. The go through Little League, Pony League, American Legion, high school, college - the whole bit. It's hit, run, catch. Then somebody comes along and offers you money for what you're doing. How can you complain?"


A bus, with loud American music deafening the ears of the passengers, was riding over a turnpike last November In Japan. I was sitting behind the Pirates' Dave Parker, who is a major-leaguer at needling.


"So this is what makes the Pirates go, I said.


"Yeah," said Parker, suddenly becoming quieter. I just wish Pops were here for this trip. He would love it and the people here would love it. Know something? That man is my idol."


Dave Parker was serious. Dead serious.


"Did Dave really say that?" Stargell asked. Then, as teammates came closer, he said: "That's quite something considering his idol before me was Dave Parker."


Ask Manager Chuck Tanner about Willie Stargell and he bubbles. "He has won games for us just by sitting on the bench," said Tanner. "The opposition sometimes hesitates to bring in a right-handed pitcher when I have Willie available.


"It's a pleasure to be around a man like him. His class rubs off on everybody who associates with him."


Some say Stargell should have retired after 1979.


"I heard that," he said. "They said It would have been a perfect time to go out on top. I don't agree. I think the time to go out is when you don't enjoy what you're doing anymore. Does It look like I am enjoying myself?"


Later, he rapped out a double off Dick Ruthven, raced to second base and smiled.


Willie Stargell loves what he does and you have to love him for it.

Green worried about effect of a strike on Phillies


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


CLEARWATER, Fla. – Although his team has now lost three straight exhibition games, Dallas Green isn't concerned about the Phillies.


What's troubling the Phils' manager is the growing probability of a players' strike.


"I have no anxieties about this team," Green said yesterday after the Pirates beat the Phillies 4-1 in a game that was called after 5½ innings because of rain at Bradenton. "Things have fallen into place, the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fit. The pitching might not come for awile, but it will."


The possibility of a strike was mentioned and Green's face suddenly became long.


"I guess that is the only thing I am apprehensive about now," said Green. "That will hurt us; that would kill us. We have a good feel for everything right now, we've got some momentum and everything's here, but a strike…"


Green did not finish his words.


Bob Boone, Phils' catcher and National League player representative, is not optimistic about the next few days. He is in Dallas for meetings with the Major League Players Association executive board. He held a meeting with the team Saturday morning and most of the players left certain there will be a strike.


"It's almost certain," said Pete Rose. "We're going on this trip to the East Coast, but I really think we will be back before we play all three games. I doubt very much the game in Cocoa will be played against Houston."


When the players on all teams voted, they gave the executive board permission to call a strike on or after April 1 if a settlement with the owners over a basic agreement was not reached by then.


Phil Garner, the Pirates' rep, talked to reporters before yesterday's game and said he held little hope that accord could be reached.


Marvin Miller, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said yesterday that a strike is a likely possibility.


"I am not optimistic," said Miller shortly before a meeting with baseball owner representatives and a member of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Palm Springs, Calif. "The owners group hasn't been negotiating for 20 weeks. They are stalling. I think they have provoked this confrontation. Rumor has it they have bought strike insurance."


In the Phils' exhibition yesterday, Willie Stargell, Bill Madlock and Dave Parker had two hits apiece off Dick Ruthven to lead the Pittsburgh attack before the rains came.


Pittsburgh collected nine hits off Ruthven in five innings as Stargell singled in two first-inning runs. Winning pitcher John Candelaria, who gave up just two hits in five innings, singled in a run in the second. Madlock brought home the fourth in the third.


The Phils got their only run in the fifth when Ramon Aviles, who was optioned to the minor-league complex last week, homered off Candelaria. Aviles played shortstop because many of the regulars were given the day off. Normally, Buddy Harrelson would have played in place of Larry Bowa, but he is recovering from a pulled groin muscle.


Despite another so-so outing by Ruthven, Green said he saw some positive things.


"I liked some of the things I saw today," said Dallas. "He threw more good breaking balls and showed signs of consistency. As I said all along, he is physically sound, but is struggling right now. It takes time."


Ace reliever Kent Tekulve gave the Phils nothing in the top of the sixth before the game, which was started in a light drizzle, was finally called.


EXTRA POINTS – The Phils leave this morning for Fort Lauderdale and the beginning of the three-game trip... Tonight, they are scheduled to play the Yankees with Steve Carlton pitching against Ron Guidry... Tomorrow, they move up to Pompano for a game with the Rangers and finish the trip with the scheduled game against Houston Wednesday... After 10 games, Mike Schmidt is hitting.406 with five homers and 14 runs batted in... Greg Luzinski has a.462 average with 10 RBI... Pete Rose is third in RBI with nine... Most of the players plan to remain in this area if there is a strike. ,. They will continue to work out at some venue, but say it is useless to go to Philadelphia where Veterans Stadium will be closed to them.

Players likely to set strike date tomorrow


Associated Press


PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Strike two or play ball?


That question will almost certainly be answered in Dallas tomorrow, but a bet on at least the setting of a strike date by major league baseball players is as safe as a wager on Spectacular Bid.


Representatives of the Players Association and team owners met for more than nine hours yesterday with Ken Moffett, deputy director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. And, in the words of the union's executive director, Marvin Miller, "nothing happened."


The Players Association's executive board will meet in Dallas tomorrow to determine when and if a strike will be called. The "if" no longer seems to apply.


"This was a complete waste of time," Miller said of yesterday's meeting with the owners. "There isn't the slightest basis for their calling the mediation service with no intention of negotiating or listening to our viewpoint.


"This entire day was spent on the owners' demands, nothing on the players' proposal."


Miller was asked if he anticipated a long strike.


"I certainly don't anticipate a short one, not if they have the strike insurance I keep hearing about," he said. "I think they (the owners) are doing everything possible to provoke a strike. It's as clear as can be. They're acting like 4-year-olds."


Miller said there was no doubt in his mind that the owners were trying to break the union. He said there could be no other reason that they would be willing to take such financial losses.


"I think they're successful in terms of provoking a strike," he said. "Willie Stargell would give them a star."


Moffett said there would be another meeting, but he wasn't sure when.


"I'll be in touch with both sides after Tuesday," he said. "I would have to say the meeting today was basically one where we explored the compensation issue, which seems to be the most important issue on both sides. It's the only issue we really went into.


"We made no progress as far as coming to an agreement on this issue is concerned. A lot of suggestions were made in both private caucuses and in joint meetings. Neither side made any concessions. It's going to take a while, there's about a hundred issues and we only talked about one."


Moffett referred to a proposal by the owners to adjust the amount of compensation a team receives after losing a free agent. The owners proposed that a team signing a "highly sought" free agent be required to give up a player, rather than an amateur draft choice, in return. The free agent's new team could protect only 15 of its players in that selection process.


The only other strike in major league history occurred In 1972. It lasted 13 days, including the first nine days of what became a shortened season. The current difficulties seem much more extreme.


Four dates have been mentioned as possible strike days – immediately; on April 9, the scheduled opening day of the 1980 season; Memorial Day weekend and July 10, immediately after the All-Star game.


Miller met with the California Angels prior to yesterday's meeting with the owners and mediator. It was the 26th and final team he had discussed the situation with, and the Angels voted 30-0 for authorizing a strike on or after tomorrow. That made the total vote 967-1.


The lone dissenter was reportedly Jerry Terrell of the Kansas City Royals.


"I don't intend to make any recommendations, It's up to the players," said Miller, referring to when a strike should be called. "The executive board will make that decision."


It has been speculated that the players wouldn't strike immediately so that they could collect a few paychecks before going out. Players don't collect their regular salary during spring training. They're only given expense money.


Representatives of the owners at yesterday's meeting were Ray Grebey, the chief negotiator; Chub Feeney, president of the National League, and Lee MacPhail, the American League president. As has been their custom throughout the talks, none would discuss the situation with reporters.


Miller has said repeatedly that the owners haven't negotiated. He was asked if this surprised him.


"No, not really," he said. "They telegraphed this a long time ago. About five months ago, a high baseball official who shall remain unnamed told me that he thought the negotiations would be easy. He told me the owners have to have a victory.


"I don't know how you deal with that kind of thinking. We want to deal with the real problem. There's no victory In collective bargaining."


Perhaps coincidentally, the players' pension agreement with major league baseball, which was the basis for the 1972 strike, expires tonight. Donald M. Fehr, attorney for the union, was asked if that had any effect on a possible strike or the date which players might set as a strike deadline.


“The answer is yes, but it's not that simple," he said. "It just so happens that the pension plan expires at the approximate end of spring training. If the pension agreement was still under effect, we would still have the same situation that exists now."


Miller said that even if the executive board picks a later date on which to strike, the players may decide not to play exhibition games from April 4 on.


"That is a lucrative weekend," he said. "All that does is say to the owners, 'We don't get paid, we're not going to add dollars to your war chest.’"