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Wed, 09.01.1971

The First All-Black Baseball Lineup Plays in a Major League Baseball Game

The Starting Line Up

*On this date in 1971, the first all-Black lineup played in major league baseball. The team was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who constituted one of the most significant milestones in the racial history of major league baseball. Pittsburgh Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh prepared for the Philadelphia Phillies and left-handed pitcher Woodie Fryman.

Murtaugh’s lineup card looked like this:
Rennie Stennett, 2B,
Gene Clines, CF,
Roberto Clemente, RF,
Willie Stargell, LF,
Manny Sanguillen, C,
Dave Cash, 3B
Al Oliver, 1B,
Jackie Hernandez, SS,
Dock Ellis, P.

Upon further review, however, observers in the press box noticed that the lineup consisted exclusively of Black and Black Latin American players. Gene Clines, one of the players in the lineup that evening, initially believed that the Pirates had used an all-Black lineup several years earlier. Willie Stargell, one of the senior members of the 1971 Pirates, corrected Clines’ speculation. “No, this is the first time,” said Stargell, the Hall of Fame outfielder-first baseman. “Back in 1967, in Philadelphia, [former Pirate manager] Harry Walker started eight of us, but the pitcher, Denny Ribant, was white.”

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20th Century Baseball Chronicle
Year-By-Year History of major league Baseball
Copyright 1999, Publications International Ltd.
ISBN 0-7853-4074-2

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