Rennie Stennett, who set a Major League record that still stands by going 7-for-7 in a nine-inning game and played nine of his 11 seasons as a second baseman for the Pirates, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 72.
Stennett played for the Pirates from 1971-79, including for the World Series champions in '79. He did not play in the '71 postseason as Pittsburgh won the World Series that year.
“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. “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 was the leadoff batter when the Pirates fielded MLB's first all-Black and Latino starting lineup in 1971. And he had hits in all seven of his at-bats in a 22-0 win against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in 1971. His first hit was off Chicago starter Rick Reuschel; his seventh was against Paul Reuschel, Rick's brother.
Stennett was a sure-handed infielder with good contact skills. He hit .336 in 1977 but an injury caused him to fall short of the required plate appearances to win National League batting title.
“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. Our sincere condolences to his daughter Renee [Lujo], her husband Rolando and their sons Rolando Jr. and Rylan, Rennie’s son Rennie Jr., his daughter Nevaeh and son Camden, as well as Rennie’s son Roberto. We join them and all his loved ones in their grief. Rennie will be missed."