Card of the Day: 1979 Hostess Willie Stargell

Today’s Card of the Day was produced by Hostess and it was attached to their product boxes. From 1975 until 1979, Hostess included a Willie Stargell card in their set, so I could have picked any of the five to look at today. I went with the one from his MVP season, when Pops helped the Pittsburgh Pirates to their fifth World Series title.

The Hostess cards were rather simple designs most years. White borders with the player/team/position listed in different ways each year. Out of that five year run, the only card that is easily distinguishable from the other years is the 1976 set, which went with a USA theme for the bicentennial. That year the team/player/position were in red, white and blue boxes at the bottom, while the photo portion of the card was much smaller.

The major change for the 1979 series was that the team/player/name was on top of the photo instead of the bottom. In Stargell’s photo, he’s in a staged batting pose, looking directly at the camera. There were no game action photos in the Hostess sets at this time. Here’s the front of the card:

These cards came in three-card panels on the bottom of products and most of them were hand-cut into individual cards. However, you can still find complete panels on Ebay and occasionally you can find full boxes. If you were to find a Stargell panel from 1979, you would find him as the center card between Eric Soderholm of the Chicago White Sox and Bob Bailor of the Toronto Blue Jays. They are rare as full panels and almost impossible to find in a full box because full boxes in general are tough to find.

Here’s the back of the card.

As you can see, or maybe can’t see because it blends in, the back of the card is just plain white, with black letters/numbers. They did not go all out on these cards, showing just six years of stats and limited statistical categories. Stargell was coming off of a strong 1978 season, which followed two down years in 1976-77. As mentioned above, he would help lead the Pirates to the 1979 World Series and was the co-MVP of the National League, finishing in a tie with Keith Hernandez of the St Louis Cardinals.

If you’re looking to acquire this card, it can be found fairly cheap if you don’t mind the condition flaws. These cards were usually hand-cut by kids and even though borders were there to guide them, many cards have uneven cuts and can go inside the border, which lowers the price. A nicely cut one will cost about $25-$30, while lower grade ones have sold for as low as $2.50 in the recent past.

Here are the previous Card of the Day articles. Eventually we will have a better way to organize them, as opposed to just a continuously growing list at the bottom of each article:

1913 T200 Fatima team card

2020 Topps Living Set Josh Bell

2020 Roberto Clemente Topps Throwback

1982 Topps Tim Foli

1887 N172 Old Judge Art Whitney and Dog

1973 Topps Willie Stargell

1981 Topps Pirates Future Stars

1936 R312 Honus Wagner and Arky Vaughan

1959 Topps Buc Hill Aces

1982 Donruss Harvey Haddix

1991 Upper Deck Jose Lind

1982 Topps Traded Pirates set

1974 Topps Bob Johnson

1909 E90 Dots Miller

2005 Bowman Heritage Andrew McCutchen

1961 Topps Gino Cimoli World Series Highlights

1969 Topps Richie Hebner/Al Oliver

1920 W516 Wilbur Cooper

1887 N172 Sam Barkley (guest submission)

1976 Topps Pie Traynor

2020 Topps 206 Roberto Clemente

1957 Topps Bill Mazeroski

1998 Topps Jose Guillen (guest submission)

1948 Bowman Ralph Kiner

1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds/Johnny Ray Error

1955 Bowman Frank Thomas

1982 Fleer Mike Easler

1984 Topps NL Career Batting Leaders: Bill Madlock/Dave Parker

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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