Rennie Stennett, World Series Champion with Pirates, Dies At 72

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 18, 2021

USA - CIRCA 1970s: Second baseman Rennie Stennett of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws circa 1970s. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)
The Sporting News

Former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Rennie Stennett died Tuesday of cancer. 

He was 72.

A World Series champion with the Pirates in 1979, Stennett's career helped continue breaking down barriers for minority players two decades after Jackie Robinson's last MLB game. Stennett was a member of the first all-Black starting lineup in league history, leading off against the Philadelphia Phillies in September 1971 as a 20-year-old rookie and going two-for-five with one run and an RBI. 

Pirates @Pirates

We are saddened to relay the news that a beloved member of the Pirates family, Rennie Stennett, passed this morning at the age of 72.<br><br>Our thoughts and prayers are with the Stennett family as we join in their grief. pic.twitter.com/K7ao9X0DEY

“We are saddened by the loss of such a beloved member of the Pirates family. Rennie was a great player on the field, and an even better person off of it,” Pirates president Travis Williams said in a statement. “A member of our World Series championships in both 1971 and 1979 who remained a very active and cherished member of our Alumni Association, Rennie symbolized what it meant to be a Pittsburgh Pirate."

Stennett played 50 games during the '71 season, the year the Pirates won their fourth title in franchise history, but was left off the World Series roster. 

The native of Colon, Panama, appeared in at least 106 games over each of the following nine years, finishing his career with two seasons as a member of the San Francisco Giants from 1980-81. 

In 1,237 games, Stennett compiled a career .274/.306/.359 slash line with 41 home runs, 75 stolen bases, 207 walks and 348 strikeouts. His record seven-for-seven hitting in a nine-inning game still stands. 

Stennett's accomplishment came during the 1975 season in a 22-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. His first hit came off Cubs starter Rick Reuschel while the seventh was hit off Paul Reuschel, Rick's brother. 

“Rennie was proud to be a member of the first all-minority lineup in Major League Baseball history when he took the field with his teammates 50 years ago on September 1, 1971,” Williams said. “And who could ever forget when he famously went 7-for-7 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 16, 1975, becoming the first, and still, only player in the modern-era to accomplish the feat in a nine-inning game. Rennie’s legacy will live on here with the Pirates and through his family he loved dearly."