On this day in 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates fielded the first all-black and Latino lineup
The Pirates made history with a lineup only put together due to injuries
There were only 11,278 fans at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, 1971, but history was made anyway. The date marked 24 years after Jackie Robinson officially broke baseball’s color barrier and the Pirates became the first Major League franchise to field an all-black and Latino starting nine.
Although the normal Pittsburgh Pirates starting lineup that year was usually filled with players of color, it had never been entirely made up of men of color until Sept. 1. Normal starters Richie Hebner (third base) and Gene Alley (shortstop) were both nursing injuries, which allowed Dave Cash and Jackie Hernandez to fill in.
“The Pirates were known for their black and Latin players, and of course on that particular team, we were loaded,” former Pirate Al Oliver told MLB.com. “I don’t know how many we had on the 1971 team, but if I had to guess, maybe 11 or 12 black and Latin players. As a rule, we would start five – if Dock pitched, then it would be six.”
Here’s a look at the rest of that fateful Pirates lineup:
- Rennie Stennett (second base)
- Gene Clines (center field)
- Roberto Clemente (right field)
- Willie Stargell (left field)
- Manny Sanguillen (catcher)
- Dave Cash (third base)
- Al Oliver (first base)
- Jackie Hernandez (shortstop)
- Dock Ellis (pitcher)
“It really wasn’t a major thing, until around the third or fourth inning, and Dave Cash was sitting next to me, and one of us said: ‘You know, we got all brothers out there, man,’ and we kind of chuckled because it was no big deal to us,” Oliver continued. “We really had no idea that history was being made.”
That day’s lineup included three future Hall of Famers – Stargell, Clemente and Bill Mazeroski – including All-Stars in catcher Sanguillen and pitcher Ellis. Combined, the roster was composed of 14 whites, six African-Americans and seven Latinos.
“When it comes to making out the lineup,” then-Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh said. “I’m colorblind and my athletes know it.”
“I wish that it would be brought up more, and it should be,” Oliver told Fox Sports. “It wasn’t maybe as big as Jackie Robinson breaking into the major leagues [in 1947], but it should be up there as far as baseball history is concerned. I think it’s a day that really should be celebrated.”