50YRS AGO, THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES FIELDED THE GREATEST BASEBALL TEAM TO EVER START A MLB GAME

50YRS AGO, THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES FIELDED THE GREATEST BASEBALL TEAM TO EVER START A MLB GAME
On a late summer evening in 1971, Manny Sanguillen heard his Pittsburgh Pirates teammate Dave Cash mention that something unusual was happening inside Three Rivers Stadium. No, not unusual. Unprecedented.Sanguillen, the ebullient catcher and a native of Panama, stood at home plate and scanned the field. All of the Pirates on the artificial turf had something in common. Something other than their double-knit white uniforms with black and gold trim.“We have nine brown people on the field,” Sanguillen said to himself, his amazement and delight still evident as he tells the story.Sanguillen found his close friend Roberto Clemente, the Pirates’ right fielder from Puerto Rico, and pointed out the makeup of the lineup to take on the Philadelphia Phillies.“We have to win this game,” Clemente said earnestly. “Can you imagine what they’ll say if we don’t win with all of us on the field?”
Roberto Clemente looking at the camera: Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente was a member of the 1971 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates. (Pittsburgh Pirates)
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(Pittsburgh Pirates) Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente was a member of the 1971 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates. (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Twenty-four years after Jackie Robinson’s major league debut, a team had fielded a lineup consisting entirely of Black and Black Latino players. The Civil Rights Act had become law only seven years earlier and battles over school desegregation still raged.

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And now, on Sept. 1, 1971, a baseball team was quietly making a statement about diversity and what it means to be an American. The Pirates were not at all surprised that they were the team to take such a significant step.

Pittsburgh’s lineup 50 years ago Wednesday included two future Hall of Fame players, Clemente and left fielder Willie Stargell, and four other players who were current or future All-Stars: Sanguillen, first baseman Al Oliver, third baseman Cash and a Southern California native and a Gardena High School grad, pitcher Dock Ellis.

Rounding out the starters were shortstop Jackie Hernandez, second baseman Rennie Stennett and center fielder Gene Clines.

Back in 1971, free agency in baseball was still a few years away and general managers built teams through trades and drafting young prospects. That’s how the Pirates of the early ‘70s were constructed, but the organization had forged its own path within that framework.

“The Pirates had probably signed more Black and Latin players in the ’60s than anybody in baseball,” Clines recalled. “They were the dominant force in Latin America.

“I can think of times before that night where we had seven or eight Black and Latin players on the field and it didn’t make a difference to us. Being with the Pirates, that was just the norm. We were there for one reason and that was to win.”

Pittsburgh was leading the National League East Division, but the landmark game did not begin auspiciously for the Pirates. In the top of the first inning, an error on a ground ball by Hernandez allowed the Phillies to score the first run and by the end of the half-inning, the Pirates trailed, 2-0.

Roberto Clemente holding a baseball bat: Roberto Clemente, left, talks with manager Danny Murtaugh as the team takes the field for a World Series workout in Baltimore on Oct. 15, 1971. (Associated Press)
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 Roberto Clemente, left, talks with manager Danny Murtaugh as the team takes the field for a World Series workout in Baltimore on Oct. 15, 1971. (Associated Press) The man who made history filling out the Pirates’ lineup card that night was their manager, Danny Murtaugh. The even-keeled Irishman was in his third stint as Pittsburgh’s manager, having led the team to a World Series title in 1960, a seven-game triumph over the mighty New York Yankees.

Murtaugh had reached the major leagues playing for the Phillies in 1941. Like many major leaguers, though, his career would be interrupted by World War II.

Murtaugh hoped to serve in the Army Air Corps but was turned down, said his granddaughter Colleen Hroncich, who wrote a biography of him. The man who later would be praised by his players for being “colorblind” when it came to race could not fly airplanes because he was in fact colorblind.

“He had a chance to stay stateside and play baseball in the military, but he didn’t think he’d be helping very much if he did that, so he volunteered to join the infantry,” Hroncich said.

While serving in Europe, Murtaugh experienced intense combat. “Once his unit was pinned down by a sniper, and he later … told my uncle, ‘I decided that if I got out of there alive, I wasn’t going to worry about anything anymore.’ ”

That philosophy served Murtaugh well in 1971, when he guided a collection of players from diverse backgrounds through the heat of a pennant race during one of the most turbulent periods in modern U.S history.

“The players said that because of all the unrest in the country at the time with race relations and the [Vietnam] War, his calming presence was well-suited to that team,” Hroncich said.

Cash confirmed that at a 50th anniversary reunion for the team in July.

“Race wasn’t a big deal to us. We had probably the closest-knit group of guys on any team that I played on,” Cash said. “We sacrificed for each other, and everybody loved each other.”

::

Forty years before that Sept. 1 game, having nine Black players on a baseball field at the same time in Pittsburgh was an everyday occurrence.

After all, the city was home to two of the most successful teams in the Negro Leagues, the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords. Some of the best Black ballplayers spent at least part of their career there, including National Baseball Hall of Fame members Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson.

“From a cultural and entertainment perspective, it was the major industry in Black Pittsburgh,” said Samuel W. Black, director of the African American program at the Sen. John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. “The major leaguers and the Negro Leagues players knew each other well from exhibition games. Only the conditions in this country at the time kept the Black and white players separated on the field.”

After Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, the Pirates were slow to integrate at first, Black said. However, that changed when they acquired Clemente in 1954; the Dodgers owned the rights to the highly regarded prospect but allowed the Pirates to select him and thus deprived Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, of having one of baseball’s top outfielders for a generation.

“When the Pirates signed Clemente, it opened the door for them to sign more Latin players,” Black said. “In Pittsburgh, Roberto lived in the Black community. He embraced the Black community and they embraced him.”

In 1971, Black was 10 years old and growing up in Cincinnati, and even though he and his friends were Reds fans, they developed a keen interest in the Pirates that season.

“I read about the Pirates in Jet magazine,” Black recalled. “They became part of my consciousness, and when we would play ball at the park, we would imitate some of their players. … One guy who was left-handed and played first base imitated the hitch in Willie Stargell’s swing and another guy would imitate Clemente’s gait as he ran around the bases.”

“It was a fact that … African Americans across the country became fans of the Pirates. We just saw players who looked like us.”

a group of baseball players standing on top of a field: Boxing star Muhammad Ali clowns with Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Willie Stargell during batting practice before a Pirates-Chicago Cubs game Sept. 9, 1971, in Pittsburgh. The contest was declared a draw when Stargell headed for the bat rack. (Associated Press)
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 Boxing Greatest ever, Muhammad Ali, clowns with Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Willie Stargell during batting practice before a Pirates-Chicago Cubs game Sept. 9, 1971, in Pittsburgh. The contest was declared a draw when Stargell headed for the bat rack. Although the Pirates were the first franchise to field an all-Black lineup, Black players were making a significant impact on other teams too.

“The ’70s were really a high point in terms of Blacks in Major League Baseball,” said Todd Boyd, a professor at USC and an author and commentator on race and popular culture. “We were accustomed to seeing Black players, and some of the biggest stars in the sport were Black: You had Hank Aaron; Willie Mays, who was near the end of his career; Reggie Jackson was an up-and-coming star, Vida Blue.”

Still, having one of the older franchises in the majors start a game with an all-Black lineup elevated the topic of diversity in baseball.

“In the early 1970s, baseball was a very popular sport and many people would have readily identified it as the national pastime,” Boyd said. “If you look at the impact of baseball in American culture at the time, to have the Pirates field an all-Black lineup, it’s noteworthy. It spoke to a change in the culture and way people viewed race.”

The sports landscape, and baseball’s standing, has changed dramatically since then. The NFL and NBA, for example, are much more prominent than they were in 1971. And although the total Major League Baseball attendance for 2019 was 68.5 million, that was a 14% drop from its high in 2007.

What’s more, in recent years American-born Black players have made up only 7% to 8% of major league rosters (Latino players surpassed Black players as the second-most dominant race/ethnicity in baseball in the 1990s).

Looking back at that Pirates-Phillies game, Boyd said, “Ordinarily, you would look at this moment and say this is when everything changed, but in this case, it didn’t. There has been a culture shift since then. Baseball looks old and conservative, and it embraces being old and conservative.”

a close up of Dock Ellis wearing a hat: Pitcher Dock Ellis expresses his sentiments after the Pirates' loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the 1971 National League Championship Series. (Associated Press)
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 Pitcher Dock Ellis expresses his sentiments after the Pirates’ loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the 1971 National League Championship Series. (Associated Press) On that historic night in 1971, the Pirates’ all-Black lineup was a topic of conversation in their dugout, but thoughts quickly turned to bouncing back from that early deficit to the Phillies.

“We knew we had put ourselves in a hole, but with that offense, we knew we were never really out of a game,” Cash said.

Indeed, the Pirates answered with five runs in the bottom of the first and three runs in the second, and went on to win 10-7. Seven players drove in runs, including Sanguillen, who hit a two-run homer that brought in Clemente.

Pittsburgh’s two daily newspapers did not cover the game because their labor unions had been on strike for nearly four months, but a few of the reporters who were present realized that Murtaugh had made history.

“The writers ran in after the game and said to Danny, ‘Do you know what you did? You started an all-Black lineup,’ “ said Steve Blass, a veteran starting pitcher. “And Danny said, ‘I didn’t know that. I thought I was putting the best nine Pirates out on the field tonight.’ It was the perfect statement.”

The Philadelphia newspapers had varying reactions to the milestone. The Evening Bulletin published a headline that read, “Pirates’ Lineup All Black.” The Daily News made one reference to Pittsburgh’s “all-soul” lineup without elaboration. The Inquirer did not mention the racial makeup of the Pirates’ starters.

A United Press International wire story focused on the all-Black lineup and quoted Murtaugh: “When it comes to making out the lineup, I’m colorblind and my athletes know it.”

Over the next several seasons, Black players continued to play key roles in the Pirates’ success. Sanguillen, Stargell, Stennett and Oliver led the team to more division titles, even after Clemente’s death in a plane crash in 1972. The Pirates’ diversity became less noteworthy in time, though, and injuries and adjustments to pitching rotations made an all-Black lineup less likely.

a man running on a baseball field: Roberto Clemente is congratulated by third base coach Frank Oceak after homering in the fourth inning to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead against the Orioles in Game 7 of the World Series in Baltimore on Oct. 17, 1971. Pittsburgh won the game 2-1. (Associated Press)
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 Roberto Clemente is congratulated by third base coach Frank Oceak after homering in the fourth inning to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead against the Orioles in Game 7 of the World Series in Baltimore on Oct. 17, 1971. Pittsburgh won the game 2-1. (Associated Press) The 1971 Pirates went on to the World Series, where they faced the defending champs — and heavily favored — Baltimore Orioles.

In the decisive Game 7, Blass pitched nine stellar innings and Clemente hit a home run. Hernandez handled a bouncer flawlessly and threw to first base for the final out. The Pirates won 2-1.

“The underlying legacy is that this turned out to be the best team in baseball that season,” Boyd said. “They proved that it was the right decision to play those guys by winning the World Series. That’s the ultimate endorsement.”

That wasn’t all they accomplished, Black said: “That ’71 Pirates team fulfilled the promise of Negro Leagues baseball.”

Even in a year in which his team won the World Series, the night of Sept. 1 stands out for Sanguillen, who played in 29 postseason games in his 13 big league seasons.

“It means everything,” he said. “It was the most beautiful game I ever caught in my life.”

1971 Pittsburgh Pirates season

1971 Pittsburgh Pirates
1971 NL East Champions
1971 NL Champions
1971 World Series Champions
Major League affiliations
Location
Results
Record 97–65 (.599)
Divisional place 1st
Other information
Owner(s) John W. Galbreath (majority shareholder); Bing Crosby, Thomas P. Johnson (minority shareholders)
General manager(s) Joe L. Brown
Manager(s) Danny Murtaugh
Local television KDKA-TV 2
Bob Prince, Nellie King
Local radio KDKA–AM 1020
Bob Prince, Nellie King
Stats ESPN.com
BB-reference
< Previous season     Next season >

 

The 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates season was the 90th season for the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise; their 85th in the National League. It involved the Pirates finishing first in the National League East with a record of 97 wins and 65 losses. They defeated the San Francisco Giants three games to one in the National League Championship Series and beat the Baltimore Orioles four games to three in the World Series. The Pirates were managed by Danny Murtaugh, and played their first full season at Three Rivers Stadium, which had opened in July the year before.

Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente 1965.jpg
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Clemente in 1965
Right fielder
Born: August 18, 1934
Barrio San Antón, Carolina, Puerto Rico
Died: December 31, 1972 (aged 38)
Isla Verde, Carolina, Puerto Rico
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 1955, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1972, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average .317
Hits 3,000
Home runs 240
Runs batted in 1,305
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
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Baseball Hall of Fame
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Induction 1973
Vote 92.7% (first ballot)

Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker[roˈβeɾto enˈrike kleˈmente (ɣ)walˈkeɾ]; August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican professional baseball right fielder who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates. After his early death, he was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming both the first Caribbean and the first Latino-American player to be enshrined. Because he died at a young age and had such a stellar career, the Hall of Fame changed its rules of eligibility. As an alternative to a player having to be retired for five years before eligibility, a player who has been deceased for at least six months is eligible for entry.

Clemente was an All-Star for 13 seasons, playing in 15 All-Star Games. He was the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1966, the NL batting leader in 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967, and a Gold Glove Award winner for 12 consecutive seasons from 1961 through 1972. His batting average was over .300 for 13 seasons and he had 3,000 hits during his major league career. He also was a two-time World Series champion. Clemente was the first player from the Caribbean and Latin America to win a World Series as a starting position player (1960), to receive an NL MVP Award (1966), and to receive a World Series MVP Award (1971).

Clemente was involved in charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries during the off-seasons. He often delivered baseball equipment and food to those in need. On December 31, 1972, he died in a plane crash at the age of 38 while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The following season, the Pirates retired his uniform number 21, and MLB renamed its annual Commissioner’s Award in his honor. Now known as the Roberto Clemente Award, it is given to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”

honors and awards

Awards

Honors

  • Clemente’s uniform number 21 was retired by the Pirates on April 6, 1973.
  • The United States Postal Service issued a Roberto Clemente postal stamp on August 17, 1984. The stamp was designed by Juan Lopez-Bonilla and shows Clemente wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap with a Puerto Rican flag in the background.
  • A US Post Office in Clemente’s hometown, Carolina, Puerto Rico, was named after him by congress on October 10, 2003.
  • PNC Park, the home ballpark of the Pirates which opened in 2001, includes a right field wall 21 feet (6.4 m) high, in reference to Clemente’s uniform number and his normal fielding position during his years with the Pirates.
  • The Pirates originally erected a statue in memory of Clemente at Three Rivers Stadium, an honor previously awarded to Honus Wagner. The statue was moved to PNC Park when it opened. An identical smaller statue was unveiled in Newark, New Jersey‘s Branch Brook Park in 2012.
  • The Park and statue are near the Roberto Clemente Bridge, which carries Sixth Street and was named in his honor. The team considered naming PNC Park after Clemente. Despite popular sentiment, the team sold the naming rights to locally based PNC Financial Services. The bridge was named for Clemente as a local compromise.
  • The coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico was named the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in 1973; two baseball parks are in Carolina: the professional one is named Roberto Clemente Stadium for him; the other is a Double-A. The Escuela de los Deportes (School of Sports) has the Double-A baseball park. Today, this sports complex is called Ciudad Deportiva Roberto Clemente. Because of Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates have continued as one of the most popular baseball teams in Puerto Rico.
  • The City of Pittsburgh maintains Roberto Clemente Memorial Park along North Shore Drive on the city’s North Side. It includes a bronze relief by sculptor Eleanor Milleville.
  • In 2007, the Roberto Clemente Museum opened in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh.
  • Near the old Forbes Field where Clemente began his pro career, the city of Pittsburgh renamed a street in his honor.
  • Thoroughbred racehorse Roberto, bred in 1968 and owned by John W. Galbreath, then the Pirates owner, was named for Clemente. The horse became a champion in Britain and Ireland. In June 1973, after Clemente’s death, it won the Group I Coronation Stakes at Epsom.
  • The U.S. state of New York in 1973 renamed Harlem River State Park in The Bronx as Roberto Clemente State Park. A statue of the Hall of Fame icon, sculpted by Cuban-American Maritza Hernandez, was installed at the park in June 2013. It depicts Clemente doffing his cap after notching his 3,000th hit on September 30, 1972.
  • In Brentwood, Suffolk County, New York, Timberline town park and pool was renamed as Roberto Clemente Park in 2011.[112]
  • Roberto Clemente Stadium in Masaya, Nicaragua was named for him.
  • The Roberto Clemente Little League in Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey is named for him.
  • During the 2003 and 2004 MLB seasons, the Montreal Expos (who at the time were owned by MLB) played 22 home games each season at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although the Pirates played their annual road series against the Expos in Montreal for 2003, the two teams did met in San Juan for a four-game series in 2004. It was the last series the Expos hosted there before moving to Washington, D.C. and becoming the Washington Nationals the following season. During one of those games, in a tribute to Clemente, both teams wore throwback uniforms from the 1969 season this was the Expos’ first season and Clemente’s 15th with the Pirates.
  • Clemente’s #21 remains active in MLB and is worn by multiple players. Sammy Sosa wore #21 throughout his career as a tribute to his childhood hero.[115] The number is unofficially retired in the Puerto Rico Baseball League. While the topic of retiring #21 throughout Major League Baseball, as was done with Jackie Robinson‘s #42, has been broached and supported by groups such as Hispanics Across America. Sharon Robinson disagrees, believing that her father’s honor should be his alone, and that MLB should honor Clemente in another way.
  • At Pirate City, the Pirates spring training home in Bradenton, Florida, a section of 27th Street East is named Roberto Clemente Memorial Highway.
  • On April 27, 2018, the portion of Route 21 between mileposts 3.90 and 5.83 in Newark, New Jersey was dedicated the “Roberto Clemente Memorial Highway” in his honor.
  • In July 2018, the asteroid 109330 Clemente was named in his honor.
  • Roberto Clemente Park is a neighborhood park located near downtown Miami, Florida; it has a ball field, community center, playground and basketball courts. 101 NW 34th St, Miami, FL 33127
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates took #21 out of retirement for a game against the Chicago White Sox at PNC Park on September 9, 2020. The MLB has celebrated the date as “Roberto Clemente Day” since 2002, and all members of the Pittsburgh team were to wear #21.
  • The Fort Buchanan Fitness Center annex in Puerto Rico was dedicated to Roberto Clemente on January 15, 2021.
  • The US Post Office serving the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago is named in honor of Roberto Clemente.
  • In Boston, Massachusetts a baseball diamond in the Back Bay Fens was rededicated as Roberto Clemente Field in the 1970s and feature a cast stone monument with a bronze relief of likeness and plaque in his honor.

Halls of fame

Accolades

  • Willie Mays, while fielding questions from reporters following the announcement of his election to the Hall of Fame on January 23, 1979, called Clemente the best player he ever saw, other than himself. Mays reiterated his assessment of Clemente on January 26, 1979, stating that, “He could do anything with a bat and in the field.” Mays has repeatedly through the years stood by his statements regarding Clemente.
  • Tommy John thought Clemente was one of the most difficult hitters he ever faced as a pitcher. “He hit the same way I pitched: with his head, outthinking you.”
  • Named a member of MLB’s Latino Legends Team in 2005.
  • Selected for the All Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team in August 2007 for the 50th anniversary of the award.
  • In 1999, Clemente ranked number 20 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, the highest-ranking Latin American and Caribbean player on the list. Later that year, Clemente was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Schools

Biographies and documentaries

Clemente’s life has been the subject of numerous books, articles and documentaries:

1973: A Touch Of Royalty, documentary narrated in English and Spanish versions by Puerto Rican Academy Award winner actor José Ferrer.

1973: Olu Clemente — The Philosopher of Baseball, a bilingual play featuring poetry, music and dancing, by Miguel Algarin and Jesús Abraham Laviera, performed on August 30, 1973, at the Delacorte Theatre, Central Park, and published in 1979 in Nuevos pasos: Chicano and Puerto Rican drama by Nicolás Kanellos and Jorge A. Huerta.

1993: Roberto Clemente: A Video Tribute to One of Baseball’s Greatest Players and a True Humanitarian, documentary directed by Rich Domich and Michael Kostel, narrated by Puerto Rican actors Raul Julia (in Spanish) and Héctor Elizondo (in English).

2006: Clemente: The Passion and grace of Baseball’s Last Hero by David Maraniss.

2008: “Roberto Clemente”: One-hour biography as part of the Public Broadcasting Service history series, American Experience which premiered on April 21, 2008. The film is directed by Bernardo Ruiz, narrated by Jimmy Smits and features interviews with Vera Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and George F. Will. The production received an ALMA Award.

2010: Chasing 3000 a movie based on a true story of two kids who travel from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh hoping to see Clemente’s 3,000th hit.

2011: 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente was released, a graphic novel by Wilfred Santiago (published by Fantagraphics) detailing Clemente’s life in a comic-book format. In their USA Today Magazine article titled “Saluting Pittsburgh’s Finest” Richard E. Vatz and Lee S. Weinberg said Clemente was “arguably the best in the history of the game” and stated that “understanding the magnitude of Roberto Clemente requires an appreciation of the gestalt of his presence, which was greater than the sum of his statistics”.

2011: DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story, a bilingual musical about Clemente’s life, had its world premiere in November 2011 with a full house at the Teatro SEA in Manhattan before moving to New York’s Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre for a successful seven-week run. The show ran from December 6 through December 16, 2012 at Puerto Rico’s Teatro Francisco Arrivi.

2013: Baseball’s Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories, the first feature dramatic film on Clemente’s life was finished by California filmmaker and Pittsburgh native Richard Rossi. Rossi returned to Pittsburgh to premiere his film on Roberto Clemente’s birthday, August 18, 2013 [145] before exhibiting the film in New York, other cities, and DVD.[146][147]

Influence on players today

Roberto Clemente’s influence on Puerto Rican baseball players was very similar to that of Jackie Robinson for African American baseball players. While he was not the first Puerto Rican to play in Major League Baseball, he was arguably the most notable to play in his time; As with Robinson, Clemente faced discrimination and disrespect while playing in MLB.

MLB shortstop Carlos Correa has shared what he admired most about Clemente as a player: “The passion, the way he played, the way he went about his business every single day. Every time he put on his uniform he felt like the luckiest man in the world, so that for me is what I admire most.

Canonization effort

The feature film Baseball’s Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories (2013) was filmed by Richard Rossi. One of the scenes in the movie features a conversation Clemente has with a nun.

The scene spurred Rossi, a former evangelical minister, to submit a request to the Vatican for them to consider Clemente’s canonization as a saint. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints, responsible for these issues, responded by confirming receipt of the letter and directing Rossi to work through the Archbishop of San Juan – the jurisdiction in which Clemente died; despite this, Rossi issued a press release showing a picture of the response and claimed that it showed that the Pope was personally supporting Rossi’s effort.

Rossi did receive positive comments from the executive director of the Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh, while Carmen Nanko-Fernandez, from the Chicago Theological Union, was not confident that Clemente would be canonized, pointing out that Hispanic Catholics can continue to revere Clemente as an unofficial saint. Neil Walker, a devout Roman Catholic whose father was a teammate of Clemente, stated that “he’s somebody who lived his life serving others, really. So if it would happen, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised by it.”

In July 2017, Rossi claimed that the canonization requirement of a miracle was met that month when Jamie Nieto, who played Clemente in Rossi’s film and was paralyzed from the neck down in a backflip accident three years after the Clemente film was released, walked 130 steps at his own wedding to fellow Olympian Shevon Stoddart, though Nieto himself stated that the success was due to his hard work, while the Vatican stated that they were not in continued contact with Rossi.

Dock Ellis

Dock Ellis
Dock Ellis.jpg
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Ellis with the Pirates
Pitcher
Born: March 11, 1945
Los Angeles, California
Died: December 19, 2008 (aged 63)
Los Angeles, California
Batted: Switch Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 18, 1968, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1979, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 138–119
Earned run average 3.46
Strikeouts 1,136
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Dock Phillip Ellis Jr. (March 11, 1945 – December 19, 2008) was an American professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a right-handed pitcher from 1968 through 1979, most notably as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates teams that won five National League Eastern Division titles in six years between 1970 and 1975 and won the World Series in 1971. Ellis also played for the New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and New York Mets. In his MLB career, Ellis accumulated a 138–119 (.537) record, a 3.46 earned run average, and 1,136 strikeouts.

Ellis threw a no-hitter on June 12, 1970.  Ellis was the starting pitcher for the National League in the All-Star Game in 1971 and later that year, the Pirates won the World Series. Joining the Yankees in 1976, he helped lead the team to the American League pennant, and was named the league’s Comeback Player of the Year.

Ellis was an outspoken advocate for the rights of players and African Americans.

Manny Sanguillén

Manny Sanguillén
Manny Sanguillén 2008.jpg
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Sanguillén in July 2008
Catcher
Born: March 21, 1944 (age 77)
Colón, Panama
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 23, 1967, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1980, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average .296
Home runs 65
Runs batted in 585
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Manuel De Jesus Sanguillén Magan, better known as Manny Sanguillén or “Sangy” (born March 21, 1944), is a Panamanian former professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher in 1967 and from 1969 through 1980, most notably as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates teams that won five National League Eastern Division titles in six years between 1970 and 1975 and won the World Series in 1971 and 1979, twice over the Baltimore Orioles. He also played one season for the Oakland Athletics.

A three-time All-Star, Sanguillén’s lifetime batting average of .296 is the fourth-highest by a catcher since World War II, and tenth-highest for catchers in Major League Baseball history. Although he was often overshadowed by his contemporary, Johnny Bench, Sanguillén was considered one of the best catchers in Major League baseball in the early 1970s. While he didn’t possess Bench’s power hitting ability, Sanguillen hit for a higher batting average. He was an integral member of the Pirates teams that won three consecutive National League Eastern Division pennants between 1970 and 1972, and a World Series victory in 1971. Sanguillen was also a fast baserunner for a catcher and was a good defensive player with a strong throwing arm.

Al Oliver

Al Oliver
Al Oliver Giants.jpg
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Outfielder / First baseman
Born: October 14, 1946 (age 74)
Portsmouth, Ohio
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 23, 1968, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1985, for the Toronto Blue Jays
MLB statistics
Batting average .303
Hits 2,743
Home runs 219
Runs batted in 1,326
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Albert Oliver Jr. (born October 14, 1946) is an American former professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as an outfielder and first baseman from 1968 through 1985, most notably as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates teams that won five National League Eastern Division titles in six years between 1970 and 1975 and, won the World Series in 1971. A seven-time All-Star, Oliver was the 1982 National League batting champion and RBI champion as a member of the Montreal Expos. He was also a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner.

After playing for the Pirates, he played for the Texas Rangers (19781981), Montreal Expos (19821983), San Francisco Giants (1984), Philadelphia Phillies (1984), Los Angeles Dodgers (1985), and Toronto Blue Jays (1985), over the course of his 18-year MLB career. Nicknamed “Scoop”, Oliver batted and threw left-handed.

Willie Stargell

Willie Stargell
Willie Stargell 1965.jpg
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Stargell in 1965
Left fielder / First baseman
Born: March 6, 1940
Earlsboro, Oklahoma
Died: April 9, 2001 (aged 61)
Wilmington, North Carolina
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 16, 1962, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1982, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average .282
Hits 2,232
Home runs 475
Runs batted in 1,540
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
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Baseball Hall of Fame
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Induction 1988
Vote 82.4% (first ballot)

Wilver Dornell Stargell (March 6, 1940 – April 9, 2001), nicknamed “Pops” later in his career, was an American professional baseball left fielder and first baseman who spent all of his 21 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) (19621982) with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Among the most feared power hitters in baseball history, Stargell had the most home runs (296) of any player in the 1970s decade, many of the tape-measure variety. During his career, he batted .282 with 2,232 hits, 1,194 runs, 423 doubles, 475 home runs, and 1,540 runs batted in, helping his team win six National League (NL) East division titles, two NL pennants, and two World Series championships in 1971 and 1979, both over the Baltimore Orioles. Stargell was a seven-time All-Star and two-time NL home run leader. In 1979, he became the first and currently only player to win the NL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, the NL Championship Series MVP Award and the World Series MVP Award in one season. In 1982, the Pirates retired his uniform number 8. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.

Legacy

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Willie Stargell’s number 8 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1982.

The Pirates retired his number 8 on September 6, 1982. In 1999, he ranked 81st on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was also nominated as a finalist for the MLB All-Century Team. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 1994 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Stargell also threw out the ceremonial last pitch at Three Rivers Stadium before the team’s move after the 2000 season.

After Stargell died, Joe Morgan said, “When I played, there were 600 baseball players, and 599 of them loved Willie Stargell. He’s the only guy I could have said that about. He never made anybody look bad and he never said anything bad about anybody.”

The Willie Stargell Foundation was established to promote research and treatment for kidney disease.[21] Champion Enterprises sponsors a Willie Stargell Memorial Awards Banquet which raises money for disadvantaged children in Pittsburgh.

Stargell also worked to raise awareness of sickle cell anemia. He formed the Black Athletes Foundation (BAF) shortly after President Richard M. Nixon identified the disease as a “national health problem” in the early 1970s. For a decade, BAF, renamed the Willie Stargell Foundation, raised research money and public awareness about the disease. Starting in 1981, sickle cell awareness and fundraising was gradually being assumed by The Sickle Cell Society Inc. The Willie Stargell Foundation transitioned to raising money for treatment of and research into kidney disease.

Wilver “Willie” Stargell Avenue is a major thoroughfare in his adolescent home of Alameda, California, connecting to the former Naval Air Station Alameda, and Stargell is honored with a plaque and plaza at its intersection with 5th Avenue.

Dave Cash (baseball)

Dave Cash
Dave Cash - Montreal Expos.jpg
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Second baseman
Born: June 11, 1948 (age 73)
Utica, New York
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 13, 1969, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1980, for the San Diego Padres
MLB statistics
Batting average .283
Home runs 21
Runs batted in 426
Teams
Career highlights and awards

David Cash Jr. (born June 11, 1948), is an American former professional baseball second baseman, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos, and San Diego Padres, from 1969 to 1980.

Cash was born in Utica, New York and attended Thomas R. Proctor High School. His MLB career started modestly, as he played in only 82 games over his first two seasons, though he still hit a very respectable .306 in 271 at-bats. Cash established himself as a solid singles hitter and a good defensive second baseman in his time in Pittsburgh. He was the Pirates’ primary second baseman from 1971 to 1973, but his playing time was reduced somewhat by military service commitments and by the presence on the team of veteran second baseman Bill Mazeroski and rising star Rennie Stennett. After the 1973 season, with Stennett ready to play regularly and another excellent young second baseman (Willie Randolph) in their minor league system, the Pirates traded Cash to the Phillies for pitcher Ken Brett.

With the Phillies from 1974 to 1976, Cash became a true everyday player, missing only two games over three seasons. He made the All-Star team each year, and batted .300 or better with over 200 hits in both 1974 and 1975.

After the 1976 season, Cash signed as a free agent with the Expos. He had a good season in 1977 but a disappointing year in 1978, and by 1979 had lost his job as the Expos’ starting second baseman. He finished his career as a part-time player with the Padres in 1980.

Coaching

In 2006, Cash was hired to be first base coach for the Baltimore Orioles.

In 2007, he was hired to be the Manager of the Utica Brewmasters in the New York State League established in 2007 in his hometown of Utica, New York. During the team’s first game ever, Cash was ejected by the homeplate umpire for arguing balls and strikes.

In 2008, Cash was hired as the hitting coach for the Sussex Skyhawks in the CAN-AM League. The Skyhawks played in Augusta, New Jersey and won the 2008 CAN-AM League Championship 3 games to 0 over the Quebec Capitales.

In 2010, Cash served as the hitting coach for the GBL’s Yuma Scorpions.

Jackie Hernández

Jackie Hernandez
Jackie Hernandez Royals.jpg
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Shortstop
Born: September 11, 1940
Central Tinguaro, Perico, Cuba
Died: October 12, 2019 (aged 79)
Miami, Florida
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 14, 1965, for the California Angels
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1973, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average .208
Home runs 12
Runs batted in 121
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Jacinto Hernández Zulueta (September 11, 1940 – October 12, 2019) was a Cuban professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a shortstop and third baseman from 1965 to 1973, most notably as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates teams that won two consecutive National League Eastern Division titles in 1971 and 1972, and won the 1971 World Series.

Baseball career

Hernández began his professional baseball career with Almendares in the Cuban Winter League, spending the 1960-1961 season on that team’s reserve list. When the Cuban government banned professional baseball after the end of the season, Almendares’s general manager Monchy de Arcos, who was also a scout for the Cleveland Indians, helped Hernández secure a contract with the latter organization.

Hernández entered the Indians’ farm system as a catcher, and in 1961, he caught Tommy John‘s first professional game while the two were with the Dubuque Packers. Later, Indians scout Hoot Evers suggested that Hernández’s strong throwing arm would be better used at shortstop, and for the next several years Hernández worked to learn the infield. He was released by the Indians on May 15, 1965 and signed by the California Angels, who promoted him to the major leagues later that year at the age of 25. Hernández remained with the Angels until April 10, 1967, when he was chosen as the player to be named later in a December 2, 1966 deal that sent Dean Chance to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Pete Cimino, Jimmie Hall, and Don Mincher. Hernández served as a utility infielder for the Twins in 1967 and 1968, but was left unprotected in the 1968 expansion draft, and the new Kansas City Royals chose him with the 43rd pick.

Hernández served as the Royals’ everyday shortstop in their inaugural season, and received the plurality of the starts at that position in 1970, sharing time with Rich Severson and Tommy Matchick. On December 2, 1970, the Royals traded Hernández and Bob Johnson to the Pittsburgh Pirates, receiving Bruce Dal Canton, Jerry May, and Freddie Patek in return.

Initially slated to play in a reserve role, Hernández became the Pirates’ regular shortstop after Gene Alley sustained an injury. On September 1, 1971, Hernández was part of a notable milestone when, for the first time in baseball history, a team fielded a lineup that consisted entirely of African-American and Latino players. Orioles manager Earl Weaver memorably said that “The Pirates can’t win the pennant with Hernandez at shortstop,” but Hernandez started all seven games in the 1971 World Series and committed no errors, even successfully handling the ground ball that became the final out of Game 7.

Hernandez’s role decreased in subsequent seasons, and the Pirates traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies for Mike Ryan in January 1974. Hernández never saw Major League action with the Phillies, however; he returned to the Pirates organization and played for their Triple-A team in 1974. He followed by playing in Mexico in 1975 and 1976.

After Hernández’s retirement as a player, he remained involved with baseball as a coach, including a stint on the staff of the New Jersey Jackals in 2001.  He died from cancer on October 12, 2019 at age 79.

Rennie Stennett

Rennie Stennett
Rennie Stennett - Pittsburgh Pirates.jpg
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Stennett circa 1977
Second baseman
Born: April 5, 1949
Colón, Panama
Died: May 18, 2021 (aged 72)
Coconut Creek, Florida
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 10, 1971, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
August 24, 1981, for the San Francisco Giants
MLB statistics
Batting average .274
Home runs 41
Runs batted in 432
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Reinaldo Antonio Stennett Porte (April 5, 1949 – May 18, 2021) was a Panamanian professional baseball second baseman, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1971–79) and San Francisco Giants (1980–81). He batted and threw right-handed. A World Series champion with the Pirates in 1979, Stennett is one of two players to collect seven hits in a nine-inning game, which he did in a 22–0 victory over the Chicago Cubs, in 1975. Stennett was also a member of the first all-Black and Latino starting lineup in big league history.

Early life

Stennett was born in Colón, Panama, on April 5, 1949. He was raised in the Panama Canal Zone and attended Paraiso High School, the same as Rod Carew. Stennett piqued the interest of the New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, and Houston Astros, who wanted him to continue his schooling in the United States and develop him into a pitcher. However, he rejected their overtures on the recommendation of his father. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates on February 12, 1969.

Career

Stennett played for four minor league teams in the Pirates’ farm system from 1969 to 1971: the Class A Gastonia Pirates (1969), the Class A Salem Rebels (1970), the Triple-A Columbus Jets (1970), and the Triple-A Charleston Charlies (1971). He made his MLB debut on July 10, 1971, at the age of 20, leading off for the Pirates and going 0-for-4 against the Atlanta Braves. He collected his first major league hits a week later, going 2-for-4 against the San Diego Padres. On September 1, Pittsburgh faced the Phillies with the first major league all-Black and Latino starting lineup Stennett led off the game for the Pirates, who won 10–7.

In his first three seasons with Pittsburgh, Stennett was used at shortstop and second base. He also played a solid defense at all three outfield positions, with an average arm and great reaction speed. He showed progress in 1973, when he hit 10 home runs and 55 RBIs in 128 games. Following the 1973 season, Pittsburgh traded incumbent second baseman Dave Cash to Philadelphia and gave Stennett the starting job. Batting from the leadoff spot, he responded with a .291 average, 84 runs, 56 RBI, and a career-high 196 hits.

On September 16, 1975, Stennett became the only player in the 20th century to have seven hits in seven at bats in a nine-inning game, as Pittsburgh routed the Cubs, 22–0. Stennett’s first hit in that game came off starter Rick Reuschel and his seventh was off Rick’s brother Paul. Pittsburgh also set a major league record for the largest winning score in a shutout game in the modern era (later matched by the Cleveland Indians in 2004). He was the third player to collect seven hits in a single game, and the second to do it in a nine-inning game. With Stennett’s position at second base secure in a lineup loaded with young hitters such as Dave Parker, Richie Zisk, and Rich Hebner and complemented by veterans Willie Stargell and Manny Sanguillén, Pittsburgh traded up-and-coming second baseman Willie Randolph to the New York Yankees after the 1975 season.

On August 21, 1977, Stennett was batting .336 for the season, but he broke his right leg while sliding into second base in a game versus San Francisco. He was out for the year and had fewer than the required number of plate appearances (12), falling short of qualifying for the batting title, won by teammate Dave Parker (.338). In that season, Stennett collected a career-high 28 stolen bases. Stennett was part of the 1979 Pirates team that won the World Series. He singled in his only at-bat in the series, in which Phil Garner was the starter at second base for each game. Stennett was a free agent at the end of the 1979 season and was signed by the San Francisco Giants to a five-year, $3 million contract. However, the Giants would release Stennett in April 1982, with three years remaining and $2 million left on his contract. He hit a combined .242 with San Francisco. Not yet 31 years of age, Stennett would never again play in major league baseball. He played in the Mexican League in 1982 before finishing his professional career with 55 games for the Double-A Wichita Aeros in 1983.

Later years

In August 2016, Stennett met with Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants at Marlins Park, two days after Crawford’s seven-hit game against the Miami Marlins. Crawford was the first major league player to collect seven hits in a game, although in extra innings, since Stennett.

Stennett died on May 18, 2021, in Coconut Creek, Florida. He was 72, and suffered from cancer prior to his death.

Gene Clines

Gene Clines
Gene Clines 1972.jpg
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Clines in 1972
Outfielder
Born: October 6, 1946 (age 74)
San Pablo, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 28, 1970, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
May 8, 1979, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
Batting average .277
Home runs 5
Runs batted in 187
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Eugene Anthony Clines (born October 6, 1946) is an American former professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as an outfielder from 1970 to 1979, most notably as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates teams that won four National League Eastern Division titles in five seasons between 1970 and 1974 and, won the World Series in 1971. He also played for the New York Mets, Texas Rangers, and the Chicago Cubs. Clines was the hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs from 2005 to 2006. From 2003 to 2004, he was the team’s first base coach before being promoted to hitting coach. He batted and threw right-handed.

Playing career

Clines is a 1966 graduate of Harry Ells High School in Richmond, California. In a 10-season career, Clines posted a .277 batting average with 187 RBI, 71 stolen bases, and five home runs in 870 games.

A fast runner with excellent defensive skills, Clines debuted in 1970 with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a reserve outfielder, hitting .405 (15-for-37) in 31 games in his rookie year. He went to the postseason with Pittsburgh in the 1971, 1972 and 1974 National League Championship Series, winning a World Series ring with the Pirates in 1971. His most productive season came in 1972, when he posted career-highs in average (.334), doubles (15), and triples (6) in 107 games. Clines also played with the New York Mets, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs, and retired during the 1979 campaign and took over the Cubs’ first base coaching duties. He had been traded from the Mets to the Rangers for Joe Lovitto on December 12, 1975.

Coaching career

Clines remained with the Cubs as first base coach under manager Bob Kennedy until 1981, then joined the Houston Astros organization as a roving minor league hitting instructor, a position he held through 1987. Later he worked as a hitting coach for Houston in 1988 and spent six seasons as a hitting coach in the American League for the Seattle Mariners (1989–92) and Milwaukee Brewers (1993–94) before start a six-year stint with the San Francisco Giants as a hitting coach and outfield coach (1995–2002), as he guided National League MVP Award winners Jeff Kent (2000) and Barry Bonds (2001 and 2002). During the 2002 World Series with the Giants he wore a microphone for Fox and when Bonds hit his first career World Series home run he screamed, “Oh, my God!”

In 2003, Clines returned to the Chicago Cubs as their first base coach. He was named hitting coach prior to the 2005 season. 2006 was his 20th season on a major league coaching staff.

In 2007, he assumed the position of outfield and base running coordinator for the Los Angeles Dodgers system. In 2010, he was promoted to the position of senior advisor for player development with the Dodgers.

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