Thursday, September 1, 2011

On This Day... Danny Murtaugh proves he is color blind

September 1st, 1971. Twenty Four seasons after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first Major League franchise to field an all-minority starting nine. With two newspaper strikes and only 11,278 fans in attendance, the game, a 10-7 win over the Phillies did not receive a great deal of recognition at the time. Here is a story from a 1995 issue of Baseball Digest that provides some details.

The next day's Philadelphia Evening Bulletin ran the headline "Pirates Starters All Black" and quoted Pirates Manager Danny Murtaugh as saying, "When it comes to making out the lineup, I'm color blind and my athletes know it. They don't know it because I told them, but they know it because they are familiar with the way I operate."

Some good quotes I have found today on this little known, yet significant historic event:
  • Al Oliver said he had no idea until early in the game, when he turned to Dave Cash and said something to the effect of, "Hey, we got all brothers out here!"
  • Gene Clines said he heard a batboy say, "The Homestead Grays are playing tonight," referring to the famous Negro League team.
  • Richie Hebner says “Some of the guys joked around the clubhouse, saying, ‘Hey, you white guys, you can take a rest tonight’..."


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