Editor’s note: Mike Decurcy, the sporting news’s first writer and proud resident of Pittsburgh, was 11 years old in October 1971. The Sporting News was 85 years old. The Buccaneers had not been in the World Series in 11 years, and it would have been almost 40 years before author Bruce Marcussen called Roberto Clemente and the 71st Pittsburgh Pirates “the team that changed baseball.” With a predominantly black and Latino daily squad, the Pirates beat the Orioles in seven games, winning the World Championship 50 Years Ago this weekend.

Do we know when we will witness history? Often, yes, but not always. Sometimes, it takes years before we, in retrospect, say definitively, “That was historic.”

It may take time to assert with authority, as Bruce Marcussen did in his 2009 book The Team That Changed Baseball, Roberto Clemente and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates, that this team was unique in its impact on Major League Baseball in the years, even decades, that followed.

However, how would an 11-year-old in Pittsburgh have any sense of that, let alone an interest in it? His favorite team was on the verge of the world championship.

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Decorcy: “I remember the day the Pirates started the All-Black lineup. They made a great deal of it in the TV news. I wasn’t around long enough to appreciate the importance. Roberto Clemente was my hero. I loved Manny Sanguillen and Willie Stargell. I didn’t understand why race would be a problem for anyone” .

MORE: TSN Archives: Champ Bucs hit 1.000 as fortune tellers

History Swings On MLB “In the middle of the week in the middle of the Pennant race,” The Associated Press noted 50 years after the incident:

The top nine available players ran onto the field at Three Rivers Stadium for the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 1, 1971.

“The fact that the nine — Renee Stinnett, Jane Clynes, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargill, Manny Sangwillen, Dave Cash, Oliver, Jackie Hernandez, Doc Ellis — didn’t really cross their minds until then.”

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“Not since the heyday of the Negro Leagues,” Marcussen wrote. writing, “He had a team like this taken to the field.”

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The Sporting News on September 18, 1971 reported in a brief story that Buccaneers manager Danny Murto’s lineup of blacks and Latinos bombed 13 casualties. In the story, player Willie Stargill recalls that Pittsburgh had a squad of eight players of color in 1967 in Philadelphia, but the primary bowler in that game was white, he said.

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“We didn’t take the field, you know, to make history,” Oliver said last month while honoring the 50th anniversary of Wednesday’s 10-7 win over the Phillies in September 1971. Date.”

For years, seven-time All-Star Oliver has found it odd that the Pirates squad on September 1 was not celebrated the way Jackie Robinson was to break the color barrier in 1947.

In recent years, he said, he’s taken it as a nod, a compliment of sorts, to the color-blind Murtaugh’s approach to his job.

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A local reporter asked Murtaugh after the September 1, 1971 game if he realized all nine starters were black or Latino, according to Markusen’s book.

“Did I have nine blacks there?” Murtaugh said, pretending to be surprised. “I thought I had nine pirates out there in the field. Once a guy wears a pirate costume, I don’t notice the color of his skin.”

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The Pirates will win the NL East Race and defeat the NL West Giants Champion in the NLCS. They will face defending champion Orioles, who swept the A in the ALCS. It was the first appearance in the World Pirate Championship since 1960, a year after Mike Decoracy was born.

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Decorcy: I was in sixth grade in 1971, my freshman year at Greenock School after I was finally allowed to leave Catholic school and go to public school with all the kids from my neighborhood. That was a huge victory for me. We had only been a month since Mrs. Bunson had entered the room shortly after lunchtime on Monday. We were going to watch the second game of the World Championships at school! I remember wondering if the kids in Saint-Denis would watch the match. I don’t remember ever seeing a TV in the building in my five years there.

What I remember that afternoon is that the TV was in black and white, that Richie Hebner hit a goal that wasn’t really important, and the Buccaneers lost 0-2 and we watched a lot of it on TV before the final. The bell rang and we hopped on the school bus back home. I wasn’t really worried that they were in such a hole. Both games were in Baltimore. I figured there was a chance the Buccaneers would come home and win a triple in a row.

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The pirates did just that, including Game 4, obviously historic at the time as the first night game in World Championship history. Clemente, scoring 0.417 in Games 3-5, carried out his assurances to his teammates after Game Two, as reported in Sports News: “Don’t worry, I’ll pick you up when we get to Pittsburgh.” The series returns to Baltimore, with the Pirates advancing, three-on-two, and a chance to win it in Game Six.

More: The World Championship’s first night game “was a success with the letter S.

Decorcy: I was only 11 during the 1971 world championships, but I had my priorities straight. Game 6 was Saturday afternoon in Baltimore. Elizabeth Forward High School was playing a soccer game on their home ground that afternoon; We were one of the only schools that didn’t have lights in our field so all of our Saturday afternoon home games were at 1:30.

The match was against our rival Thomas Jefferson, and neither team has lost yet. I hated losing it, but there was no way to go into the match. Every other kid in our neighborhood chose to attend the soccer game, including my brother Pat. My dad took a bunch of them.

But miss the 6 game of the high school football match? Not a chance. The Pirates could win the World Championship that day, and I’m going to miss it. I wouldn’t let that happen. So I stayed home with my mom, and watched on my own as the Pirates loaded the bases at the top of the 10th inning of a 2-2 game. They fail to get the lead into the house. The Orioles won it at the bottom of the half. Although it was painful, I did not regret my choice.

I think EF lost 48-6, something like that.

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The Pirates’ Game 7 lineup in Baltimore: Dave Cash, 2B; Jane Clynes, C.F.; Roberto Clemente, R.F.; Bob Robertson, 1b; Manny Sangelin, C; Willie Stargill, L.F.; Jose Pagan, 3b; Jackie Hernandez, SS; Steve Blass, b.

Final score: Pirates 2, Orioles 1.

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Decorcy: There was a knock on my door shortly after Pirates 1st base officer Bob Robertson threw the pitch at 1st base to officially score the final game of the series. The reception of visitors at that moment was no surprise, so why shouldn’t the entire Old Hills Road neighborhood celebrate this tournament together?

However, it was, because my friend Dave Bloom announced that his father was offering us to drive us downtown to join the festivities there. It wasn’t a long drive home from Baltimore, so the Buccaneers were expected to arrive at Pittsburgh International Airport in the early evening and then greet their fans as the team’s convoy slid a slow drive through the streets of downtown.

Arne Bloom was a lawyer with offices in the Oliver Building. There was a church on Sixth Street which had a little grassy area in front of what I am sure was a cemetery. We all grew up there: me, Dave, my brother Pat, Dave’s sister Linda, and Mr. Bloom.

We stayed there for hours and the atmosphere was festive. People lined up on Sixth Avenue, shared the joy, and maybe had some beers. And we all waited. The pirate was supposed to show up, and what a sight! Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargill and Manny Sanguelin – all of our favorites will be there on the biggest night of their careers.

Every once in a while the car would turn a corner and start driving towards us and the crowd would grow excited. that’s it! They are here! But they were never the same, just some guys hanging from a convertible. In the end – I have no idea when we gave up – we went home.

The offer we promised never happened. But we still had this tournament. And that night, even if it didn’t go as planned. It was a night I remember for 50 years and I plan to cherish for the rest of my life.

MORE: Why didn’t the 71 Pirates comeback parade happen?

date? From The Sporting News summary in the immediate aftermath of Game 7: “In the quiet dressing room of Orioles, Brooks and Frank Robinson patiently answered questions. They did everything a little better than we did. That’s it,” said Brooks Robinson.

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Nearly four decades later, Markusen—noting that the success of 71 Pirates prompted other future heroes to be more colorblind—closes his retrospective account of the season and series:

“(T) 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates conclusively demonstrated, for the first time truly, that a group of athletes, representing a diverse range of backgrounds and nationalities, can work together effectively and win a World Series Championship. For this reason, they deserve to be called the team that changed baseball. “.

Senior Editorial Consultant Bob Hill has worked with or with Sporting News for over 25 years.

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