‘Pops’ Stargell’s legacy lives on through others

Savoy Restaurant
May 31, 2017 –
Photos by J.L. Martello

Due to the breakneck speed that we often move at, it’s easy to forget why we do what we do. When we talk about the memory of Willie Stargell and the MVP Awards, aka “Night of the Champions,” be reminded of this. Stargell was the 1979 MVP, 1979 National League Championship Series MVP, 1979 World Series MVP, 1978 Comeback Player of the Year…475 career home runs, two-time World Series Champion, voted Top 100 Greatest Players of all-time, and trust me, this list could go on for another 10 pages.

As for the other namesake recognized on this May 31 evening, the star status continued. The legendary Connie Hawkins…“The Hawk,” New York schoolyard legend, NBA Hall of Famer, ABA Championship winner, ABA MVP (with the Pittsburgh Pipers, Pittsburgh’s first-ever championship), celebrated Harlem Globetrotter, first- round NBA draft pick with the Phoenix Suns, nine-time NBA All-Star, and recognized as one of the 50 Greatest Players of all-time.

I’ll name all the awardees and inductees in a moment, but first, this fabulous evening at the Savoy Restaurant began with words from keynote speaker Judge Dwayne Woodruff. That was followed by the introduction of the Mistress of Ceremonies, noted actress Rita Gregory. Award presenters and models were Kathy and Priscilla, and special guest legends were Ricky Coleman and BB Flenory.

During the event, we honored veteran members of game officials and referees, and all of the groundbreaking and historic contributions of African Americans in that field.

We also saluted officials in the public sector who’ve had a major impact in Pittsburgh.

Let me personally congratulate all of our 2017 Willie “Pops” Stargell MVP Award winners, along with Connie Hawkins Summer Basketball League Hall of Fame Inductions.

Pittsburgh Urban Officials: Ray Morton, Greg Smith, Paul Dorsey, Rich Alsberry, and Dan Robinson and MVP Awardees —Chelsa Wagner, Mayor William Peduto, Richard Stewart, Emmitt Miles, Stephanie Turman, James Conner, Dr. Bonnie Tatar, Dr. Regina Holley, and Margo Hinton.

Connie Hawkins Hall of Fame Inductees: Hosea Champine, Kevin Price, John “Ringo” Saunders, Dave Burris, Shawn Harvey, Corey Gadson, Eric Carter, Joe Barlow, Vince Lackner, Kenny Lewis, Brian Carroll, and Rico Appendanza.

Special thanks goes out to Chuck Sanders Charities, Highmark, UPMC, Frank Fuhrer Wholesale Co., County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, B-Pep, DA Stephen Zappala and most importantly, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have graciously supported the event for 43 years.

Last and certainly not least…Thanks Pops, we are still Fam-i-lee!!!

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