Willie Stargell needs stamp-ede of buyers to win first place

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The Pirates may be in first, but Willie Stargell remains in third place.

His stamp, that is.

Stargell, the late Hall of Famer whose 21-year-career with the Pirates included being named MVP of the 1979 World Series, is one of four Major League All-Stars whose images have recently been placed on postage stamps.

And because it's baseball, there's a race for the pennant.

The four stamps will be sold in select post offices starting Friday, but they have been available for pre-order online since April, and the U.S. Postal Service has been tracking sales made over the phone and on its website.

According to the USPS's official standings -- the number of stamps pre-ordered by Wednesday -- Stargell's stamp comes in at 419,906, behind Joe DiMaggio's 510,286 and Ted Williams' 505,226 and ahead of Larry Doby's 408,246.

The competition for most Stamps Batted In, or SBI, as the postal service has dubbed it, ends at midnight tonight.

"We're in striking distance, for sure," said postal service spokesman Tad Kelley in Pittsburgh.

Stamps are sold in sheets of 20, which means that for Stargell to overtake DiMaggio's current SBI, 4,519 Pirates fans -- or about 12 percent of ticket-holders at a sold-out game at PNC Park -- need to buy one $9 sheet of stamps each, and do so by midnight.

"I think Pittsburgh fans are going to come at the last minute and take it," said Mark Saunders, a Postal Service spokesman based out of Washington, D.C.

The four stamps will be dedicated Friday morning at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Starting Friday, the baseball stamps as well as other collectibles of the image, can be purchased at select post offices. The stamps will be available at the Allegheny Station office, the branch closest to PNC Park, as well as at the California Avenue, Grant Street, McKnight Road, Monroeville, Pleasant Hills and Montour Branch offices.

The Willie Stargell stamp will be unveiled at PNC Park at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, before the Pirates face the Miami Marlins.

To pre-order stamps, visit www.usps.com/play-ball or call 1-800-stamp24.

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To subscribe: http://press.post-gazette.com/ Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.


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