Rennie Stennett, part of the first all-Black and Latino starting lineup in major league history with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the only player in the modern era to go 7 for 7 in a nine-inning game, has died. He was 72.
The Pirates, citing information provided by the Stennett family, said the sure-handed second baseman who helped Pittsburgh win the 1979 World Series died Tuesday following a fight with cancer.
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Stennett hit .274 with 41 home runs and 432 RBIs in 11 big league seasons, nine of them with Pittsburgh.
Though he wasn’t picked for an All-Star team, Stennett received Most Valuable Player votes in 1974 and then again in 1977, when he hit a career-best .336 and stole 28 bases before missing the final six weeks of the season — he broke his ankle in a slide, and never more was so dynamic.
Stennett, who was born in Panama, reached the majors with the Pirates in 1971. On Sept. 1, 1971, he started at second base as part of the first all-Black and Latino lineup in MLB history in a 10-7 victory over Philadelphia, a group that included Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell.
On Sept. 16, 1975, Stennett got seven hits in a 22-0 romp over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. He had four singles, two doubles and a triple, and the bat he used went to the Hall of Fame.
Stennett played primarily at second base but also spent time at shortstop and the outfield during his career. He had a pinch hit in his only at-bat of the 1979 World Series, winning a ring as the Pirates rallied to beat Baltimore in seven games.
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“Rennie symbolized what it meant to be a Pittsburgh Pirate,” team president Travis Williams said in a statement.
Stennett left the Pirates after the 1979 season, signing a five-year contract with San Francisco. The Giants, however, released him in April 1982.
Stennett is survived by his daughter, Renee, sons Rennie Jr. and Roberto, and several grandchildren.