Pirates Broke Ground With All-Minority Lineup

From Charlie Vascellaro at MLB.com on September 1:

Led by a man called “Pops,” the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates danced to the disco hit “We Are Family” all the way to a World Series championship. But that Pirates squad’s family tree had its roots in the team’s history-making predecessors of 1971.


On Sept. 1, 1971, twenty four seasons after Jackie Robinson officially broke baseball’s color barrier, the Pirates became the first Major League franchise to field an all-minority starting nine. Witnessed by just 11,278 fans in attendance, the game did not receive a great deal of recognition at the time.

“I don’t think I’ve been asked to talk about that team as much in the last 40 years as I have been this year,” said [Al] Oliver, who was honored recently at a gala event in Pittsburgh, along with other members of the 1971 Pirates, by the Josh Gibson Foundation in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the great Negro Leagues slugger’s birth.

“In the ’30s [Gibson’s time], it would have been totally impossible in most people’s minds to believe what happened in 1971. If you were living in the ’40s, you wouldn’t have believed it,” said Oliver.

The 1971 Pirates team boasted three future Hall of Famers in [Willie] Stargell, Clemente and Bill Mazeroski, as well as All-Stars in catcher Manny Sanguillen and pitcher Dock Ellis.

Read the full article here: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110901&content_id=24052540&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

Originally published: September 1, 2011. Last Updated: September 1, 2011.