Markusen: MLK and MLB in 1968

From SABR member Bruce Markusen at The Hardball Times on February 15, 2013:

Forty five years ago, the Pirates prepared to open the season with 11 African-American and Latino players, more than any of the 20 major league teams. The players on the 1968 team included the following: first baseman Donn Clendenon, third baseman Maury Wills, star outfielders Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente, center fielder Matty Alou, utility infielder Jose Pagan, backup outfielder and pinch-hitter Manny Mota, starting pitchers Bob Veale and Al McBean, and relief pitchers Dock Ellis and Juan Pizarro.

These were not bit players; they represented the core of the Pittsburgh roster. Clendenon, Stargell and Clemente were the Bucs’ three top power hitters, Wills and Alou two of their best table-setting speedsters, and Veale and McBean two of their three most frequently used starting pitchers.

Given the composition of the Pirates’ roster, it’s not surprising that the Pirates, as much as any major league team, were hit hard by the news that came on April 4, 1968: Renowned civil rights leader Martin Luther King lost his life that day, assassinated James Earl Ray’s bullet on a second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.

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Originally published: February 15, 2013. Last Updated: February 15, 2013.