Manny Sanguillen–A Baseball Ambassador
Pirates Alumni step up to the plate to honor Danny Murtaugh’s History-Making Moments
Rennie Stennett was a Pittsburgh Pirates rookie in 1971, playing for manager Danny Murtaugh, a Chester High graduate who had played for the Phillies and Pirates during his career in major-league baseball.
Stennett’s name was one of the nine Murtaugh wrote on his lineup card for the Sept. 1 game against the Phillies at Three Rivers Stadium. The Pirates won, 10-7, and that lineup made history because it was the first major-league lineup that included all minority players.
“I was so lucky to be a part of all that happened that year,” Stennett, who helped the Pirates win the 1971 World Series, said Saturday night at the Danny Murtaugh’s History-Making Moments Gala at the Sports Legends of Delaware County Museum in the Radnor Township Municipal Building. “It was a great feeling knowing that I was in the first lineup with all minority players, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. It really meant a lot to me.”
Manny Sanguillen was the Pirates’ catcher in 1971. He hit a two-run homer in the historic game against the Phillies, and he made the trip from his Pittsburgh home to help honor the memory of his former manager Saturday night.
“He didn’t see color,” Sanguillen said of Murtaugh. “He saw you as a person. When I was coming up, I thought I might end up going back to Panama, but he told me I was going to be a big-league player.”
Sanguillen was a good friend of Pirates Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente, and he spent three days deep-sea diving in the Atlantic Ocean searching for remains after the New Year’s Eve plane crash in 1972 that cost Clemente his life.
Bob Friend, who pitched for Murtaugh’s 1960 Pirates team that defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series, and Pottstown native Bobby Shantz, who pitched for the Yankees in that World Series, also were special guests at Saturday night’s event.
Bruce Markusen of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, who has written a book about the 1971 Pirates, spoke of how Murtaugh “got the most from the players on his teams, and how those teams rarely underachieved.
“There was a newspaper strike in 1971, so there was little publicity when he wrote that (all-minority) lineup,” Markusen said. “Danny Murtaugh had changed the culture in the Pirates’ clubhouse back in the 1970s and took what had been a divided clubhouse and made it so that there was no more tension.”
Markusen quoted former Pirate Dock Ellis, the starting pitcher for the all-minority lineup in the 1971 game, as calling Murtaugh “a beautiful dude” and mentioned how Hall of Famer Willie Stargell said “he doesn’t demand respect, he commands it.”
Tim Murtaugh Jr. recounted the story of how his father was offered a scholarship by Holy Cross College, but his grandfather – Danny Mutaugh – told the school to give the scholarship to someone who might not be able to afford to go to college.
“My grandfather went to a St. James High football game, and when they announced that he was there he was mobbed by fans and had to leave so that people could see the game,” Murtaugh Jr.
said. “He never forgot where he came from.”
By Delco Times Reporter Harry Chaykun
Danny Murtaugh’s History Making Moments Gala Photos
Sports Legends of Delaware County Summer Family Activity Guide. Free Admission! Monday through Friday 8am to 4pm