50th Anniversary of the Pittsburgh Pirates Historic 1971 Lineup
On September 1st, 1971, history was made by the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium
September 1st, 1971 marked a monumental day in MLB history. On this day the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first franchise to field an all minority starting lineup in a non-Negro League game. Due to injuries to third baseman Richie Hebner and shortstop Gene Alley, Jackie Hernandez and Dave Cash joined the lineup to cement this team into the history books.
Frankly, this was not something that was planned or even something that the players and staff noticed at the beginning of the game. According to former Pirate first baseman Al Oliver, “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.’ We really had no idea that history was being made.”
The game was between the Pittsburgh Pirates and their division rival at the time, the Philadelphia Phillies. The Pirates entered the game in first place of the NL East with a record of 81-56, while the Phillies were in last place at the time with a record of 57-77. The historic Pirates lineup defeated the Phillies by a score of 10-7 and would eventually go on to win the 1971 World Series.
Only 11,278 fans attended this game, but every one of them witnessed history.
- 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)
“When it comes to making out the lineup,” former Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh said. “I’m colorblind and my athletes know it.”
Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski and Roberto Clemente went on to be enshrined into Cooperstown as Hall of Famers making 1971’s roster one of the greatest in franchise history.
Manager Danny Murtaugh spent 29 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization as not only a manager but a player as well. He played 416 of his 767 career games as the Pirates’ second baseman from 1948-1951 before rejoining the organization as the manager in 1957. Murtaugh led the Pirates to two World Series victories in 1960 and 1971.
A historic day for both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Major League Baseball, September 1st, 1971 will forever be remembered.
“I wish that it would be brought up more, and it should be,” Oliver said. “It wasn’t maybe as big as Jackie Robinson breaking into the major leagues, but it should be up there as far as baseball history is concerned. I think it’s a day that really should be celebrated.”