Pirates celebrate 50th anniversary of first all-minority MLB squad
Today, the Pittsburgh Pirates are set to officially celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first all-minority team to enter the field in Major League Baseball history. The day will consist of a special event at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center which includes a panel discussion with members of the historical lineup, the unveiling of an exclusive artwork, an auction of replica jerseys signed by panel members. and more.
On September 1, 1971, the Pirates proudly became the first MLB franchise to field an all-black and Latino starting lineup as the team played host to the Philadelphia Phillies (10-7 win). The all-minority starting nine broke one of the biggest racial barriers in baseball since Jackie Robinson’s historic Major League debut 24 years ago. The nine players in the roster were: Rennie Stennett (2B), Gene Clines (CF), Roberto Clemente (RF), Willie Stargell (LF), Manny Sanguillen (C), Dave Cash (3B), Al Oliver (1B) , Jackie Hernandez (SS) and Dock Ellis (RHP).
The Pirates will celebrate this historic moment in sports history by hosting an in-depth panel discussion this evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Senator John Heinz History Center. The panel will feature four members of the historic lineup including Cash, Clines, Oliver and Sanguillen, as well as Roberto Clemente Jr. KDKA Radio talent Rick Dayton will host the hour-long discussion and fans are encouraged to tune in to the live stream on Pirates.com/allminority and the Pirates Facebook page.
“This is an incredible day for the organization and for Major League Baseball as a whole,” said Pirates President Bob Nutting. “While we are always honored to celebrate our club’s rich history, this time and day means so much more in Pittsburgh. This roster broke so many barriers in baseball and, more importantly, normalized equality in our game. We cannot express enough how proud we are of these players. Tonight will be the special recognition they deserve.
The private event will begin with a VIP reception for guests of the Pirates and the History Center; the roundtable is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and will end in time for the Pirates game at 8:10 p.m. in Chicago against the White Sox. On the field in Chicago, the Pirates and White Sox will wear special tees during batting practice to commemorate the anniversary of the event. T-shirts feature the 50th anniversary logo and historic range
Additionally, during the night’s event, the Pirates and the Heinz History Center will unveil a unique piece of art that commemorates the first all-minority lineup, highlighting the likeness of all nine players. The piece, created by digital artist and illustrator Robert Bruno, was commissioned by the Pirates and will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum for display as part of a long-term exhibit.
“We are honored to host this event and to tell this important story at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum,” said Anne Madarasz, Director of the Sports Museum. “It demonstrates the special role the Pittsburghers have played, not only in sport, but also in breaking down barriers and engaging on issues of freedom and equality for all.”
In honor of today’s celebration, Pirates Charities is auctioning off replica 1971 jerseys signed by the four participating players tonight. The jerseys will be available for auction at pirates.com/allminority and will run until Monday, September 6 at 5 p.m.
All proceeds from this auction will support the Pirates RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program whose mission is to increase participation and diversity in baseball and softball games with a focus on underserved people. and under-represented. Over 1,500 boys and girls ages 9-18 participate in Pirates RBI with financial support from Pirates Charities.