ST. LOUIS -- As sharp-eyed television viewers quickly noticed on Tuesday night, the Stargell Stars made a comeback on the Pirates' caps during the National League Wild Card Game against the Reds at PNC Park.
It was not a completely faithful revival of Willie "Pops" Stargell's incentive of awarding little gold stars to Pittsburgh teammates for exceptional performances.
For instance, even after hitting two home runs in the 6-2 victory over Cincinnati, Russell Martin still only had the one star with which he started out. And everyone in a Pirates uniform had them, even those on the bench or not on the active roster.
The inspiration behind the new Stargell Stars -- black five-pointed stars with a gold "P" in the middle -- was bench coach Jeff Banister, the longest tenured man in a Bucs uniform.
"I was privileged to know Willie, and he taught me what it meant to be a Pirate," Banister said. "He had so much influence on what this organization was -- and what it is again becoming. I felt it was very appropriate for Willie to be a part of this.
"I'd had the thought all year. I was just waiting for the right time. It was time."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.