Written by: Brayden Ostan

From 1971 to 2002, many home runs were hit at Veterans Stadium, the Phillies home field before Citizens Bank Park. During that time many powerful homerun hitters swung at The Vet.

The farthest home run hit at Veterans Stadium wasn’t Mike Schmidt, it wasn’t Dale Murphy, nor was it even Greg Luzinski.

It was none other than Willie Stargell.

During the inaugural season in 1971, in which the Phillies went 67-95, the Pittsburgh Pirates took a trip down I-76 to visit the Phils in a three-game series on a warm, sunny evening in June.

At first pitch, the 38,736 people in attendance were expecting a robust performance from all-time great, Jim Bunning. Bunning, who came in the game with a subpar 5-8 record, was opposite Steve Blass who was already 8-3 on the year. Bunning on the day ultimately gave up seven runs, four of which were earned. One of those runs came from a back-to-back shot off the bat of Willie Stargell, preceded by Richie Hebner.

At the top of the 2nd inning, Stargell’s second at-bat of the day produced a 458-foot shot into the 600 level of the Vet. Bunning threw a high slider that he normally would get Stargell out on, but it covered too much over the top of the plate.

“He couldn’t hit it any further,” Bunning said.

Larry Bowa, former Phillies 2nd baseman and front office employee said,

“As an infielder, when a guy hits one that you know is a home run, you give it a casual look. When he swung, you didn’t take your eyes off it because you wanted to see where it was going. It was majestic. It would take me three swings to get one up there – from second base.”

The ball was marked with a yellow star enclosed in a white circle with a black “S” to commemorate where it was hit. “I had no idea it would carry that far,” Stargell said. The star remained there until the Vet was demolished in 2002.

As the late, great, Harry Kalas always said, “That ball is outta here!” And boy it sure was.

Stargell played a whopping twenty years in the bigs, stretching from 1962 to 1982. Stargell finally won his first MVP award in 1979, sharing the vote points with Keith Hernandez of the Cardinals, hitting 32 home runs and 82 RBIs.

Leading the majors in homers twice during his playing career, Stargell finished with 475 home runs and 1540 RBIs.
Pops was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.

Featured Image: Baseball Fever
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