A generation later came Sept. 1, 1971 the day the Pittsburgh Pirates fielded the first starting nine to consist of all Black and Latino players. "I know it was a special day to have all his brothers on that team that day," Clemente Jr. said. Today, about 7 percent of Major Leaguers are Black, while the percentage of Latinos approaches 30 percent. Thats what everyone remembers, and rightfully so. His son, Roberto Clemente Jr., said his father felt he was representing all minorities when he broke into the majors with Pittsburgh in 1955. Real Times Media. We were just a team, and we knew whoever was put on the field, we were going to do the job.. You have to put in the work, and we did every day to be the best that we could be.. With Black participation in MLB sitting at just under 8 percent (and rising) its important to acknowledge the African-American players who have paved the way for other Black and Latino ballers. Murtaugh retired as manager after that season, and died in 1976. It also allowed the iconic Clemente's career to come full circle. 50 years ago today was one of those watershed moments in American history and sports culture. And until we get back to that, we may not see another mixture of those type of players together.". I cant be more proud to be a part of this team, the brotherhood, the compassion, the drive, the dedication, the work ethic that these guys had. Just another game in the middle of the week in the middle of a pennant race. Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher, Manny Sanguillen, left, and pitcher, Steve Blass celebrate as Blass completes game 7 for a 2-1 win to claim the Baseball World Series title on Sunday Oct. 17, 1971, at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, MD. (Photos by Courier photographer Brian Cook Sr.). (Another white player, regular third-baseman Richie Hebner, was also out sick.) Roberto Clemente Jr., pictured at far right, is the son of Pirates legend Roberto Clemente, who was part of the 1971 lineup. Pirates games are a staple for many city residents. And pitching, Dock Ellis. To see that you were part of something that was very special, and it means more now, 50 years later, than it did when it happened, added Clines, who played right field. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. Participation in baseball among Blacks has dropped across the board, and Black players currently make up less than 10% of Major League rosters. You know, that's something that can be passed down, something that cannot be taken away. The game was on a Wednesday night, at Three Rivers Stadium, with the first-place Pirates facing the last-place Philadelphia Phillies. Email: bodriscoll@wesa.fm, Stage and screen star Billy Porter talks about shooting his directorial debut, "Anything's Possible," in his hometown. The all-minority starting nine broke one of the most significant racial barriers in baseball since Jackie Robinson historical Major League debut 24 years prior. September 2, 2021 / 3:00 AM Have a tip for the WESA newsroom? s far as minorities in sports, that has to be second., Similarly, in hindsight, Sanguilln says he now ranks the Sept. 1, 1971, game over his two World Series appearances. Meanwhile, baseball clubs looked increasingly to the Caribbean, where young talent was cheaper to scout, sign and develop. "And as a result of that, in September of 1971 on the 1st, he proved that point that when we come together, good things can happen.". Murtaugh himself seemed a bit coy on the matter, said Markusen: When he was asked about it after the game, you know, Did you know you had nine Blacks out there? he made a remark along the lines, Well, I thought we had nine Pirates out there.. Not with Hall of Famers like Clemente in right field and Stargell in left and Oliver usually in between. Players like first-baseman Al Oliver agree even though the biggest anomaly in that nights lineup was that Oliver, a left-handed hitter, started against Phillies left-handed starter Woody Fryman, a role that usually would have gone to right-handed-hitting first-baseman Bob Robertson, who was white. And, you know, as an Afro-American individual, you have a tendency to do things that look like you.". It was days before Oliver learned the line-up was unprecedented. The series MVP was Clemente the first-ever Latino to receive that honor. And that 1971 team, and that night, September 1st, has a lot to do with it.. It was.

This is what he was wanting to happen, for all of us to pull together, and thats what we did in 1971. Pittsburgh-based cartoon inspires new program to encourage kids to explore nature. Murtaugh had a reputation for treating Black players with fairness and treating them the same as white players and Latino players, said Markusen. Something that was never an issue for the "Lumber Company" era in Pittsburgh. ", (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. The Pirates currently have two Black players on its 40-man roster (rosters get expanded from 25 to 40 in September) rookie KeBryan Hayes and outfielder Anthony Alford. And it drew African-Americans across the country, [who] became Pirates fans because of that.. stennett rennie grave Manny Sanguillen. All Rights Reserved. 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Pirates went on to win the World Series in 1971. The victory over Philadelphia that night came during a torrid 18-5 stretch that allowed the Pirates to win the NL East. Oliver said he doesnt know why Murtaugh chose him that night, only that it was simply about winning the game. rennie stennett

Only once in the roughly 220,000 Major League Baseball games has there been such a lineup, where it featured all nine players who were either Black or Latin; and it happened on Sept. 1, 1971.

Oliver, known as Scoop, told that crowd that what stood out for him was that we lost Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. three years prior. It was something that you never thought would happen, you know., We thought it was a big deal and we all wished we would have been there, added Southers, who went on to coach Little League himself. Usually, Clemente would patrol right field, but on this day, Clines played right field. By then, his 1971 lineup seemed a harbinger. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. Al Oliver. The prevailing theory is that a lack of racial awareness on the part of the majority white press as well as the fact that The Pittsburgh Press and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the city two major newspapers, were on strike, led to the event sliding under the radar. As far as I know there has never been another all-Black lineup in baseball history, said Markusen. Even if it's a moment that may be difficult to replicate. Oliver, a seven-time All-Star during his 18-year career, figures the sea of black and brown faces with the gold 'P' on their caps was simply the byproduct of the way general manager Joe Brown went about constructing a team. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The only way that we were going to do that was pull together as one, pull for one another, help one another. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball. Clemente drove the moment home, so to speak, in the locker room after game 7. Oliver has always found it curious as to why it hasn't been celebrated the way Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947 is. "And the reason why they've done that is that's all they really see on TV, on commercials, all the football players and the basketball players. Back in those days, Black players in the Major Leagues was nothing new Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier in 1947 and they showed they belonged, as Robinson, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson and Elston Howard were among African Americans who won a league (American or National) MVP in the following years. Narduzzi raises bar for defending ACC champion Pitt, Penn State set to increase tuition for most students, with a freeze for families who make under $75K, Downtown Pittsburgh gallery crawl adds new music stage, drag show, Local Democrats denounce Mastriano ties to right-wing social media site, Pittsburgh launches initiative to bring more diversity to city boards, 'Anything's Possible': Billy Porter's directorial debut is a 'love letter to Pittsburgh'. And I just feel good that they are aware of that fact.". Clementes son, Roberto Clemente Jr., was also part of the panel. But while the Dodger greats debut immediately registered as national news, reaction to the Pirates milestone was relatively muted and delayed even though the club went on to win the World Series that year. ), First published on September 2, 2021 / 3:00 AM.

The best nine players available ran onto the field at Three Rivers Stadium for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 1, 1971. The success they had in the game showed that brothers were very capable players who were here to stay. One mystery does remain about the Pirates Sept. 1, 1971, team: Was Danny Murtaugh actually making a statement, or merely filling out a lineup card? Ellis died in 2008. The fact all nine Rennie Stennett, Gene Clines, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Jackie Hernandez, and Dock Ellis were Black or of Latin descent didn't even really occur to them until afterward. Starting first-baseman Al Oliver said he was sitting on the bench next to third-baseman Dave Cash. Jet magazine called the line-up a first for the Pirates, but didnt acknowledge it as a Major League milestone. These nine playersfive Black, four Latinhad no idea they were making history as they took the field before 11,278 fans at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh on that otherwise conventional, commonplace Wednesday evening. All rights reserved. In 1971, playwright and theater director Mark Clayton Southers was a 9-year-old Little Leaguer in the Hill District, playing on a team his father coached.

ow can anyone forget that night? said Oliver. Half the 1971 Pirates were Black or Latino twice the Major League average that year. In 1968, the Detroit Tigers had won the World Series with just one Black everyday player, and no Latinos on the squad at all. Despite long-time Black stars like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Bob Gibson, the game could still seem very white. I think he was looking at talent, and we had a team full of talent. (The Pirates, by the way, won, 10-7.). For one night, anyway, Oliver and his teammates played a part in something that's grown far larger than themselves. Roberto Clemente was among the leaders of the 1971 Pirates.

From rookie second-baseman Rennie Stennett to All-Star pitcher Dock Ellis, all nine Pirates were either African-American or Latino. Clines said records are made to be broken, but still, 50 years later, no other team has yet to field an all-minority starting lineup. The other starters that day were catcher Manny Sanguillen, shortstop Jackie Hernandez, and center-fielder Gene Clines. The Pirates were far enough ahead of the curve that they had very nearly registered the historic lineup four years earlier: In a game in June 1967, theyd fielded eight Black starters, everyone but the pitcher. In what became the next-to-last season of his career, the proof of his influence stood next to him in the clubhouse and out on the field. But Oliver notes that the Pirates led by future Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente, who was born in Puerto Rico, and Black slugger Willie Stargell typically had at least six Black or Latino starters in any given game anyway. Most Black players in pro baseball today are standout players, as there were six Black players on the 2021 All-Star roster. "It is important to (my children and grandchildren) to know that their people were part of baseball history," he said. In 1975, Black players comprised 18 percent of all players in the Majors. And the thing that I feel great about it was that it proved the unity that we had on our team and proved that we had a manager that really (wasn't) concerned about race.". Markusens 2006 book on the 71 Pirates is titled The Team That Changed Baseball. He gives Murtaugh credit for his managing style in the days when Jim Crow was still a recent memory, especially for Black players who had to endure verbal abuse from minor-league audiences in the South. That happened when pitcher Bob Veale, who was Black, entered the game in relief. (Photo by Brian Cook Sr.). In addition to hosting the event at the Heinz History Center, the Pirates created a commemorative logo celebrating the 50th anniversary, the current team wore T-shirts with the logo prior to its Sept. 1 game in Chicago against the White Sox, and held a pregame ceremony with the living players from that lineup on Sept. 6 at PNC Park. Cash, Clines, Oliver, Stargell and Ellis were the Black players in the lineup. Years later that game against the Phillies is recognized as another step in the full emergence of Black and Latino players. Oliver, one of only four survivors of that starting lineup, said the players themselves shrugged off the achievement. Learn how the team earned their name, how many balls are used at each game and if hot dogs launched into crowds are edible. National outlets, however, soon took notice, with short articles in Sports Illustrated (headlined The All-Blacks) and The Sporting News. For instance, six of the eight starters on the Cincinnati Reds teams that won consecutive World Series, in 1975 and 76, were Black or Latino. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. Please enter valid email address to continue. Back row: Dave Cash, left. Fred Rogers Productions' "Through The Woods" sparks event series in state parks. As outer space as it sounds, its truemore people have walked on the moon than the number of times theres been a starting lineup in a Major League Baseball game made up entirely of people of color. If you scouted and signed players in Latin America. JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. Southers and his friends talked about it, yeah, we definitely talked about it, he said. he Pirates players on the field did not realize they were making history until the game was underway. Jackie Hernandez. I think thats one of the reasons why that team was so successful, because they really had the right guy in Murtaugh leading the way.. Oliver, when asked by forum host Rick Dayton of KDKA Radio to give one word to describe his feelings on being part of the only all-minority starting lineup in MLB history and its place in history 50 years later, said: Gift., And Clemente Jr. said: Blessing. Sanguilln remembers hearing about it in the second inning. In (Al) Olivers opinion, as far as social baseball milestones go, the Pirates all-Black and Latino lineup ranks second only to Robinson debut. "But when I looked at the card, I'm hitting seventh, and I said, 'Hey, this has to be a great team.'". We were a team that could hit anybody.

He lived two doors up from my grandmother.. We all pulled together starting in spring training to bring a worlds championship to Pittsburgh. The jubilation went beyond Pittsburgh, and even beyond supporters of the Pirates. Fifteen years later, in 1990, the percentage dipped slightly to 17, but still respectable, as Black players flooded the All-Star Game that year in Chicagos historic Wrigley Field Andre Dawson, The Wizard Ozzie Smith, Tony Gwynn, Darryl Strawberry, Ken Griffey Jr., Rickey Henderson, and the Pirates own Barry Bonds, to name some. Dock Ellis, an All-Star that year, was starting pitcher for the Pirates on Sept. 1, 1971. It is a shame that MLB has not really embraced (the moment) because I believe that it is as big as Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, said Roberto Clemente Jr., at the Heinz History Center event, drawing stern affirmations from some in the crowd. Every milestone by Black players should be recognized, especially when understanding the history of the Black player as it relates to a sport that helped integrate America and inspire massive civil rights changes. 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Clemente Jr. was six years old in 1971, watching his iconic father playing left field on Sept. 1. "We used to get their bubblegum cards all the time. Their contributions have helped make Major League Baseball a booming business. While the moment continues to pick up considerable significance as society evolves, it received minimal media coverage back then. To understand why that lineup was momentous, remember that racial progress since Jackie Robinsons 1947 debut had been slow. In 1971 24 years later Black and Latino players still made up just 25 percent of all major-league players. So when Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh filled out his lineup card on the first day of September, 50 years ago, he just put the best lineup he had available on the field; they just happened to be all-minority. PITTSBURGH (AP) In the moment, it wasn't a big deal. THE LIVING MEMBERS OF THE PIRATES 1971 TEAM that fielded the first and only all-minority starting lineup: Manny Sanguillen, Al Oliver, Gene Clines, Dave Cash. The surviving members of the 1971 team believe it's more likely that a team fields an entirely all-Latin lineup before one featuring all Black and Latin players. That 1971 game is typically noted in the context of Robinsons achievement. It doesn't matter what church you go to as long as you can play some ball.". MANNY SANGUILLEN was behind the plate, as the catcher on Sept. 1, 1971, the date the Pirates fielded MLBs first all-minority starting lineup.

In 1981, nearly one in five MLB players (18.7 percent) was Black, and one in nine was Latino. He was excited about it. Its not easy to win a championship. I think what [the Pirates] did was they showed other teams what could be done if you fully integrated your club, said author Bruce Markusen. 90.5 WESAs Katie Blackley contributed to this story. Word spread quickly among Black baseball fans. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. "You could never underestimate what we thought we could do as a team because we could beat anybody," Cash said. They were an organization that was very aggressive scouting and signing players in the Caribbean, said Bruce Markusen, an author and baseball historian who works at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, N.Y. They signed a lot of African-American players in the 1960s, early 1970s.. "And I knew it was a special moment because that meant (minority players) had arrived. The confidence, the unity, you couldnt have asked for more than anything else.. Baseball is becoming Whiter, for lack of a better term. "I thought I was a pretty good hitter," Oliver, a .303 lifetime hitter, said with a laugh. Roberto Clemente Jr., pictured at top right, is the son of Pirates legend Roberto Clemente, who was part of the 1971 lineup. "And every time I hear that quote, I've got to laugh because it's true. The Pirates defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles. In game 7 of that years World Series, seven of the eight Pirates starting behind pitcher Steve Blass were Black or Latino. "I think that's the key. Today, about 7 percent of Major Leaguers are Black, while the percentage of Latinos approaches 30 percent. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. But, just like fine wine, the history made 50 years ago this month with MLBs first all-minority lineup seems to appreciate as the time travels. "I knew Clemente was playing, and (Willie) Mays and (Hank) Aaron," Oliver said. Email news@wesa.fm. "He was trying to explain to our society, that when we come together as one, good things can happen," Oliver said. In Ohio, a young Cincinnati Reds fan named Samuel Black experienced the Bucs groundbreaking lineup in the context of nascent Black pride and the ongoing civil-rights movement. If you were willing not only to sign Black players, but to use them at positions they traditionally have not been reserved for black players catchers, pitchers., The game echoed especially in Pittsburgh, said Rob Ruck, a locally based author and educator whose writing about race and sport include Raceball: How the Major League Colonized the Black and Latin Game and Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh., That 1971 team kicks off the decade in Pittsburgh history when we become the City of Champions. And in fact on Sept. 1, 1971, they actually fielded two distinct all-Black and Latino lineups. While Oliver remembers the day being met with a shrug of sorts, over five decades it has taken on new meaning for the grandfather of four. Markusen said the Pirates were notably better than most teams at developing Black pitchers and catchers. Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Rennie Stennett. For 2 hours and 44 minutes in front of 11,278 fans, the Pirates became the ideal of what civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King preached. I said, Dave, you know, we got all brothers out there on the field, Oliver said in a recent phone interview. And unlike the 1960 Pirates, which were largely all white, or even Steelers squads before that, the teams at Pitt, the Pirates, the Steelers, were thoroughly integrated ball clubs in the 70s, Ruck said. Fast forward to today, and you have to round up to get to 8 percent Black players in MLB. But looking back at it, its something special, and its going to be something special for a long time. "Baltimore had beat everybody else, but they hadn't beat us.". The nine players in the lineup were: Rennie Stennett (2B), Gene Clines (CF), Puerto Rican icon and Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente (RF), MLBBro Willie Stargell (LF), Manny Sanguillen (C), MLBbro Dave Cash (3B), MLBbro Al Oliver (1B), Jackie Hernandez (SS), and colorful Black Ace Dock Ellis (RHP). Media attention was light partly because both of Pittsburghs daily newspapers, the Press and the Post-Gazette, were on strike. We can see how what once would have been two separate stories of African Americans and whites in Pittsburgh had come together in the 70s. Im quite sure when he made the lineup he wasnt looking at color, Oliver said. Veteran manager Danny Murtaugh who had guided the Bucs to a World Series win 11 years earlier made out the historic lineup, but it seems no one noticed until the game was a few innings old. But in terms of messages about Latinos still-growing prominence in baseball, it was one for the ages. It was like Obama getting elected in our young minds, back then. It was no big deal to us, minority or majority, he said. I know no one called and told me.. "But as it turned out, it was history. But you really don't see a lot in baseball of baseball players doing commercials. "Afro-American kids have gravitated to basketball, they have gravitated to football," Oliver said. Dave Cash. Although I lived in Cincinnati and I loved the Reds, that still drew me closer to the Pirates, said Black, whos now head of African-American programs at Pittsburghs Heinz History Center. That when, by several accounts, Cash turned to Oliver and said something to the effect of, ee got all brothers out there.. In the mid-90s, however, the proportion of Black players began to drop fast. Copyright 2022. We didnt realize that we were making history at the time, said Cash, speaking at a forum with the other living members of that lineup, Sanguillen, Clines, and Oliver, at the Heinz History Center, Sept. 1, 2021. (1971) pic.twitter.com/VzaDKuTWBE, T.Biggs (@TBiggsTequila) September 1, 2021. Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting. Roberto Clemente. In what his biographer David Maraniss called one of the most memorable acts of his life, Clemente chose to speak his first post-Series words to the media in Spanish: En el dia mas grande de mi vida, para los nenes la benedicin mia and ques mi padres, me echen la benedicin..

Yet in recent years, he's come to take it as a compliment of sorts, a nod to the color-blind approach Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh took to his job. On the 71 Pirates, though, half the players were either Black or Latino double the Major League average.

He remembers the celebration being intergenerational enough to include Whitey Turner, an older neighbor who decades earlier had played Negro League baseball. In American sport, few dates rival April 15, 1947, when Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking a Major League Baseball color line that had stood for decades. Its a blessing for these gentlemen to be recognized at last., THE LIVING MEMBERS OF THE PIRATES 1971 TEAM that fielded the first and only all-minority starting lineup: Front row: Manny Sanguillen, Al Oliver, Gene Clines. But on individual teams, youre lucky to have two African Americans on a 25-man roster. And at this rate, it may never happen again. For the Pirates, Black players were the rule, not the exception, and when you combined them with Latin players, oftentimes the 1971 team would have seven of the nine positions on the field filled with people of color on any given night. "We didn't take the field, you know, to make history," Oliver said Wednesday night while honoring the 50th anniversary of a 10-7 win over Philadelphia. On September 1, 1971, the Pirates became the first MLB franchise to field a starting lineup that consisted of all Black and Latino players. It plays in stark contrast to how Oliver grew up in Ohio in the 1950s and 60s when he idolized Jackie Robinson and Frank Robinson. Today in history, the Pittsburgh Pirates started the first all-Black/Latino lineup. So we had something to look at that looked like us. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. (Photos by Courier photographer Brian Cook Sr.). Gene Clines. That era, as it turned out, proved a near-peak of Black participation in the Major Leagues. Pittsburgh went on to beat San Francisco in four games in the NL Championship Series before rallying from a two-game deficit to edge heavily favored Baltimore in the World Series. "(He said) 'What we did, we signed players because they can play, not the church they went to,'" said Oliver, who played first that night. Stargell died in 2001. / CBS Pittsburgh. How did the Pittsburgh Pirates get their name? Clemente was greeting his sons and parents. Copyright 2009-2021, All Rights Reserved | The Shadow League. Willie Stargell. Ruck said that Black participation in youth baseball in the U.S. was undermined by the increasing cost of playing for traveling teams, the rise of personalized training for elite prospects, and the lure of full college scholarships in sports like football and basketball. It's telling that the only thing Oliver noticed about the lineup wasn't its racial makeup but his spot in it: seventh. It had to be in the newspaper or something like that, said Oliver.