The Ultimate MVP
The Ultimate MVP award is the rarest award you can win in a baseball season, it has only been accomplished one time and who knows when it will happen next.
The Major League Baseball’s Most Valuable Player Award has been around since 1931. The League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award has been around since 1977 in the National League, and since 1980 in the American League. The World Series Most Valuable Player Award has been around since 1955, and in all these years the Pittsburgh Pirates, Willie Stargell is the only player to win all three awards in a single season.
In 1979, the 39-year-old veteran first baseman had a season for the ages. Just two years after the possibility of winning three MVP’s in a season became achievable, Stargell carried his team all the way to the World Series with a remarkable season.
The man they called “Pops” in Pittsburgh hit .281 with 32 home runs in his magical season, but the most value came from his leadership in the Pirates clubhouse. He ended up sharing the MVP with the St. Louis Cardinals defensive first, corner infielder Keith Hernandez that year.
The Pirates under Chuck Tanner, won the NL East finishing two games above the Montreal Expos that season, leading them to matchup against the Cincinnati Reds in the postseason. The Reds were one of the strongest teams in that decade, but they were no match for the “We are Family” Pirates, losing in a three-game sweep. Stargell hit .455/.571/1.182 in the series, with no hit bigger than his 3-run homer to break open the scoring in the clinching game. Stargell’s excellence as before mentioned won him the NLCS MVP.
In the rematch of the 1971 series, the Pirates once again matched up against the Baltimore Orioles. Of course that year Stargell was not the face of the team, the late great Roberto Clemente was the “Stargell” that year. The 1979 series was very similar to the one eight years before it, as the Pirates beat the Orioles in 7 games, and Stargell as Clemente did, hit a go-ahead home run in the final game. That year was Stargell’s final full season, and he ended it winning a World Series MVP.
In one of the most underrated historical years for a player in MLB history, Willie Stargell did the unthinkable. Since then we have seen players such as Darrell Porter, Orel Hershiser, Liván Hernández, Cole Hamels, David Freese and Madison Bumgarner win the Championship Series MVP and World Series MVP in the same season but never have we seen the Ultimate MVP.
Willie Stargell is one of the greatest players in Pittsburgh sports history, and his 1979 season is not only a historic year in Pittsburgh but in Major League baseball history.
Maybe it will be Jose Altuve or Aaron Judge next (depending on the outcome of tonight’s ALCS game) but the possibility of winning all three MVP’s in a season, is closer to impossible than improbable. The ultimate MVP award is the rarest award you can win in a baseball season, and who knows when it will happen next.
Originally Published Oct 21, 2017