There were only 11,278 fans at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, 1971, but history was made anyway. The date marked 24 years after Jackie Robinson officially broke baseball’s color barrier and the Pirates became the first Major League franchise to field an all-black and Latino starting nine.
Although the normal Pittsburgh Pirates starting lineup that year was usually filled with players of color, it had never been entirely made up of men of color until Sept. 1. Normal starters Richie Hebner (third base) and Gene Alley (shortstop) were both nursing injuries, which allowed Dave Cash and Jackie Hernandez to fill in.
“The Pirates were known for their black and Latin players, and of course on that particular team, we were loaded,” former Pirate Al Oliver told MLB.com. “I don’t know how many we had on the 1971 team, but if I had to guess, maybe 11 or 12 black and Latin players. As a rule, we would start five – if Dock pitched, then it would be six.”
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