Building a community, one email at a time

I have Willie Stargell in action figure form, posing in front of my blog entries under construction. I’m not a big collector of any kind of action figures, but when your boyhood idol comes out in the Kenner 4-inch form factor, sometimes you have to bend the rules. And now Stargell’s batting pose is a diversion from long concalls to short term writer’s block.

Every now and then I get around to posting something to Number 8, my baseball oriented blog hosted on mlb.com. I started it to capture some of my happy hardball memories, many of which involved Willie Stargell.

The Family

About 6 weeks after my first posting, a comment appeared in one of the entries thanking me for writing nice words about Stargell, the commentor’s uncle. An email conversation followed, in which I learned about memorabilia saved by Willie Stargell’s niece, including one of the stars emblazoned with an 8 and handed out to fans. I’m jaded by having to buy tickets to get a Hall of Famer’s autograph and the desultory efforts of some players to engage the fan base, but in his time Willie Stargell actively handed out swag. He was also one of the first players to truly bridge the player diversity in the late 70s; on Stargell’s team “We Are Family” was more than their theme song. Stargell built community, one player, one fan, one star at a time.

The Fan Out

I’m touched that his niece took the time to write back, to share more stories about the man who was my first sports hero, and the original number 8 in my book. Stargell’s niece continues in the good example set by her uncle, building an informed community just one email at a time.

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