Clines, member of all-minority lineup, dies

January 27th, 2022

Gene Clines, a former World Series winner who spent a decade playing in MLB, passed away at the age of 75, the Pirates confirmed on Thursday morning.

Clines spent the first five seasons of his career in Pittsburgh with the club that drafted him in 1966. A strong hitter for average, his peak on offense came early; in his first three seasons in the Majors (1970-72), Clines hit .327 with 29 doubles and 10 triples in 235 games.

As a fourth outfielder, Clines played three games in the Pirates’ 1971 World Series vs. the Orioles, which the Bucs won, 4-1, with Clines holding down center field in Game 7. He earned NL MVP votes the following year by hitting .334 with 104 hits in 107 games.

Clines was also a part of the historic lineup the Pirates fielded on Sept. 1, 1971. Manager Danny Murtaugh penciled in Clines to hit second and play center field in the first all-minority lineup in MLB history.

"I got to the ballpark and one of our batboys made the comment, 'The Homestead Grays are playing tonight,'” Clines told George Castle for his book, "When the Game Changed." “That thought stayed in my mind, and didn't dawn on me until they were playing the National Anthem. I looked to my left and I saw Stargell and I looked to my right and I saw [Roberto] Clemente. I turned around and I started looking at all the positions. I said, 'Now, I understand what the batboy said earlier that afternoon.'"

Clines was blocked out of a starting role at one position for much of his Pirates career by the likes of Clemente, Stargell, Al Oliver, Richie Zisk and even catcher-briefly-turned-outfielder Manny Sanguillen. Over the final five seasons of his career, Clines played primarily as a pinch-hitter and utility outfielder for the Mets, Rangers and Cubs.

After his playing career, Clines served in coaching roles for the Cubs, Astros, Mariners, Brewers and Giants, and most recently as a Minor League advisor to the Dodgers. He stayed connected to the Pirates, too, and returned to Pittsburgh for the 50th anniversary of the 1971 World Series title-winning team last season at PNC Park.

“Gene was a speedy outfielder who was a key member of our 1971 World Series team,” Pirates president Travis Williams said in a statement. “He made a tremendous impact on the game, not only as a player after his career with the Pirates, but also as a longtime coach in the big leagues.

“It was an honor to have Gene back in Pittsburgh this past September to recognize him and his teammates from our 1971 World Series Championship team who took the field as part of Major League Baseball’s first all-minority lineup,” added Williams. “It was a joy to talk to him about his deep passion for baseball, his love for his teammates and his appreciation for the city of Pittsburgh. Our hearts go out to his wife Joanne, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”