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How the Pittsburgh Pirates made history 50 years ago

How the Pittsburgh Pirates made history 50 years ago
Pittsburgh Pirates on the 50th anniversary of historic lineup 01:58

When the Pittsburgh Pirates took the field 50 years ago, no one had any idea that the players — including Hall-of-Famers Roberto Clemente and Willy Stargell — were stepping into history. 

Dave Cash, Manny Sanguillen and Al Oliver all had stellar baseball careers playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. But one game decades ago made history. 

"There's so many people out there that have no clue that this day happened," Oliver said. 

On September 1, 1971, the Pirates starting lineup in the field was all African-American and Afro-Latino players. It was the first time that had ever happened in Major League Baseball. 

Unfortunately, no photos exist of the winning game. 

"In the second or third inning is when I realized that," Oliver said. Cash added, "I didn't realize it when we were standing there because I'm thinking about the game." 

Then-manager Danny Murtaugh later explained his lineup decision to catcher Sanguillen. "I did it because I want to win. I don't care who I put in the field," Sanguillen said.

A local newspaper dubbed them the "all-soul Lineup." But the team wasn't always welcome. "We were called everything but a child of God from the stands," Cash said. 

Weeks after the historic game, the team won the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. Faith and hardworking — and a colorblind decision — proved to be a winning strategy. 

"The best quote that I've heard, 'We just decided to give the White players a day off,'" Oliver said, laughing.

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