Sunday was a great day for Sebastian Stargell Sr. to break out the pitching wedge and work on his swing.
One by one, he let the balls take flight all the way to the pole. But there was no hole for Stargell to finish.
The pole was a lightpole at left field of the Regional Park baseball complex. Stargell loosened up for that day’s Pine Bluff Braves game taking swings from near the first-base line. With so many years of baseball experience, it didn’t hurt for the 50-year-old Pine Bluff resident to try a different approach to getting ready. But baseball is Stargell’s passion, as one may guess from his last name. His uncle, Willie Stargell, played 21 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning two World Series in the 1970s, hitting 475 home runs and making the All-Star game seven times.
“It is in the family blood, and that’s what we do,” said Sebastian Stargell, who’s played with the semi-professional Braves for more than two decades. “We’ve been playing ball for a long time. It’s something we enjoy doing. It’s a family tradition.
“My dad was a good ballplayer. I’ve been dealing with baseball since I was 5 years old, and I wanted my boys to learn it. It’s a great game.”
Naturally, baseball runs deep in Stargell’s family. His father played in the Pirates’ farm system. All four of Sebastian’s boys, Brandon, Sebastian Jr., Trey and Jordan, have played or will play the sport on the collegiate level. Jordan, the youngest and a recent football and baseball standout at Watson Chapel, is headed to Grambling State to take on both.
“I don’t know which one I like the most,” Jordan said. “I love both of them.”
Sebastian Sr. and Brandon played both as well at Tennessee State and Mississippi Valley State, respectively. Senior went on to play in the Canadian Football League with the Toronto Argonauts.
Trey is a junior third baseman at Southern Arkansas, which has won the Great American Conference the past two years. Sebastian Jr. just wrapped up his collegiate career at Texas Southern and is trying out for the Houston Astros.
Senior and Trey are currently playing with the Braves, where the father holds a few distinctions. He pitched two victories in one day, hit three home runs in a game three times, and had a .750 batting average one season.
Braves player/manager Winfred Smith only wishes he could have the entire Stargell clan together.
“‘Stargell and the Braves,’ that’s how they would be introduced,” Smith joked. “To have Sebastian and all four of his boys on the field, that would be having five Stargells on the field. I would only need four more players.”
Sunday also happened to be Senior and Cassandra Stargell’s 24th anniversary. And where do they always happen to spend their anniversary? At a ballpark.
Just another example of how much baseball is their family game.