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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Bucs ‘70s star Rennie Stennett dies

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.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 18, 2021 at 01:10 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obituaries, pirates, rennie stennett

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   1. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 18, 2021 at 01:23 PM (#6019410)
That 7 for 7 seemed to always be the back of his baseball card fact. RIP
   2. Scott Lange Posted: May 18, 2021 at 01:32 PM (#6019414)
Retrosheet Link
Doubled to lead off the game and came around to score.
Singled later in the first and scored again.
Singled with one out in the third and scored again.
Doubled to lead off the fifth and scored again.
Singled with two out in the fifth and stranded at first.
Singled to lead off the seventh and scored a fifth time.
Tripled with two out in the eighth and stranded at third.
Pirates were retired in the ninth with Stennett due up if three more men had reached. 8-for-8 was in play. A homer would've given him a cycle and a share of the all-time record for runs scored in a game. Quite a day. RIP.

   3. AndrewJ Posted: May 18, 2021 at 01:35 PM (#6019416)
Subtract that one afternoon from Stennett's 1975 numbers and his batting average goes down from .286 to .278 -- and his lifetime BA goes down a full point. Wow.
   4. The Duke Posted: May 18, 2021 at 01:44 PM (#6019417)
I don’t think the 2021 “in memoriam” team can possibly beat the 2020 team but they are are off to a strong start. Last years ream has to be the best in a long time.
   5. sanny manguillen Posted: May 18, 2021 at 01:57 PM (#6019420)
It's quite a punch when your namesake goes. RIP.

If he was, indeed, 72, then he has abruptly left the interesting Class of 1951 that includes Parker, Madlock, Winfield, Dw. Evans, and Cedeno.
   6. JRVJ Posted: May 18, 2021 at 05:06 PM (#6019454)
The 1979 World Series was pretty important in Panama, because the Bucs had three Panamanians on their roster (Stennett, Manny Sanguillen and Omar Moreno). As you can imagine, the country was pulling for the Pirates.

That record of having 3 Panamanians on one WS team was only reached once again, when the Yankees did it during their 1990s run (Mariano, Ramiro Mendoza, and Mariano's cousin, Rubén Rivera).
   7. Walt Davis Posted: May 18, 2021 at 05:32 PM (#6019461)
A reminder of how old I am cause Rennie was a "young" player when I was a "young" fan. Always like the guy, probably because of that 7-7 game.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: May 18, 2021 at 05:42 PM (#6019466)
Subtract that one afternoon from Stennett's 1975 numbers and his batting average goes down from .286 to .278 -- and his lifetime BA goes down a full point. Wow.

One fewer hit in 1000 AB will cost you a point. Rennie had just over 4500 AB which is a very solid career but even losing a measly 5-hit game would have cost him a point of lifetime BA. The decision way back whenever to calculate BA out to a 3rd decimal was a bit silly.
   9. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 18, 2021 at 06:00 PM (#6019470)
It's fabulous that 7 for 7. How often do you even get a chance to bat 7 times in a 9 inning game? In yesterday's White Sox game, they got 18 hits and 8 BB and still no one came to the plate 7 times.
Not as unbeatable as the 2 slams in one inning record, but a great bit of baseball oddity that any baseball fan is aware of.
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 18, 2021 at 06:21 PM (#6019474)
It was a cool, wet Tuesday afternoon game at Wrigley Field in September 1975 (not 1971 as the excerpt says), after the kids were already back in school. So a grand total of 4.932 got to see history made.
   11. sanny manguillen Posted: May 18, 2021 at 07:46 PM (#6019499)
So the Pirate twitter announcement gives his years as 1949-2021. Are the news stories not mentioning the changed date just because it's bad form to put it in his obit? His SABR bio, mlb.com, BB-Ref, and wikipedia are all still showing a 1951 birth date.
   12. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 18, 2021 at 08:31 PM (#6019510)
Thanks Tom for getting the right year on the 7 for 7 game. I thought I was losing my mind when the story said it was 1971 that just didnt seem to make sense.

I met Stennet one day when I was a kid. I think it was early spring in 1977. Im guessing the Pirates had just come back from spring training, so probably late March. We were at a Boy Scout mini jamboree of sorts with lots of other troops from the Pittsburgh area. We finished up a skills competition and some guy was surrounded by a bunch of scouts. It was Stennet who I guess just showed up out of the blue. He told a story about how he was so poor in Panama he had to choose between a baseball glove and going to Boy Scout summer camp.

When I was a little older I thought that was a strange story to tell Boy Scouts. But maybe he really liked boy scouts too and he was torn. He was really great to show up out of the blue like that when Im sure he'd rather be relaxing. I was a fan of his I never forgot that day.

THat season was Chuck Tanner's first year as manager and the club was billing itself as the LUmber and LIghtening company because of Tanner's penchant for the SB. I remember reading an article early in the year and the writer was quoting some baseball guy who said that running like that was going to get someone hurt "...and I know who. THe Big Guy." Meaning Dave Parker. But it wasnt Parker, it was Stennet who shattered his ankle in August and was pretty much nothing after that. I dont even remember him being on the 1979 team but he was.

At that pt. in 1977 he was hitting .336. He and Parker seemed to be one-two in batting average every week when I checked the batting leaders. It was unbelievable to have the two best line drive hitters in the NL on the same team. If only we could tighten up our pitching we would be unstoppable. Well it didnt happen but Tanner was a pretty damn good manager all in all.

It's hard to evaluate Stennet overall even in retrospect. The Pirates traded Dave Cash (and I guess Willie Randolph too) to make way for him. At least that's how I recall it, going from memory. He produced outstanding fielding numbers in 1975 and up throught 1977 the TZ numbers are always well into positive territory except for 1973 and his limited time rookie season. It's hard to say if he was just pretty good at fielding or outstanding. He had very little power, but he could hit doubles. He could have walked more. But he seemed to getting better and better and in 1977 he was just raking in singles and doubles.

Not much else to say. I wish he had fared much better he seemed right on the verge. So long Rennie.
   13. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 18, 2021 at 08:40 PM (#6019512)
The decision way back whenever to calculate BA out to a 3rd decimal was a bit silly.


2003 ALbert Pujols .3587 says "Hello."
   14. Cblau Posted: May 18, 2021 at 09:07 PM (#6019518)
Didn't Uncle Robby set that record, and Stennett just tied it?
   15. Walt Davis Posted: May 18, 2021 at 09:39 PM (#6019527)
Those early 70s Pirates teams were always kinda fun. It's like Tanner assigned positions via lotto. Today it's Bob Robertson, Stennett, Alley, Pagan, Clines, Oliver, Clemente ... tomorrow it's Oliver, Cash, Hernandez, Hebner, Stargell, Clines, Clemente ... now it's Stargell, Cash, Alley, Maz, Davalillo, Oliver, Clemente ... now it's Davalillo, Maz, Hernandez, Hebner, Robertson, Oliver, Clemente ... now it's Oliver, Stennett, Alley, Cash, Pagan, Davalillo, Clemente

Later Milt May got added to the mix ... and Manny headed out to RF a good bit after Clemente's death ... then Zisk arrived ...

Good lord there's a game with Stargell in LF, Gene Clines in CF and Zisk in RF
   16. sanny manguillen Posted: May 18, 2021 at 10:15 PM (#6019535)
It's like Tanner assigned positions via lotto.


That was Murtaugh through 1976. My favorite Pirate game of the era (1:38), with Zisk-Kirkpatrick-Stennett across the outfield:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT197405271.shtml

Edit: and Virdon was there in 1972-73.
   17. sanny manguillen Posted: May 19, 2021 at 07:32 AM (#6019577)
His SABR bio, mlb.com, BB-Ref, and wikipedia are all still showing a 1951 birth date.


His "what-if" narrative takes a real hit if he was actually born in 1949. Stennett batted .326 in the Carolina League in 1970 and .344 through July in the International League in 1971. He also converted from outfield to second base in 1971, just 80 games. He was used as a super utility guy in 1972-73, even tried at short, finally given second base when Dave Cash was traded to Philadelphia. Stennett batted .291/.286 as a fulltime second baseman in 1974/75, then slumped to .257 in 1976.

So, when he was having his big year in 1977, it seemed plausible that his offense was catching back up with what the young prospect had shown in the early 70s. That seems a lot less plausible if Stennett was 28 in 1977 than if he was 26.
   18. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 19, 2021 at 12:42 PM (#6019643)
the Bucs had three Panamanians on their roster (Stennett, Manny Sanguillen and Omar Moreno)


There was kind of a fun note about Sanguillen in Stennett's SABR bio:

"At age 15, [Stennett] was a pitcher on a sandlot team; his batterymate was Manny Sanguillen. At 21 Sanguillen was already in the Pirates’ minor-league chain. Although both players hailed from Panama, there was a language barrier. Sanguillen was reared in Colon in the Republic of Panama, where Spanish is the dominant language. Stennett was raised in the Canal Zone, then a US possession, and did not speak Spanish. 'I remember Rennie well,' recalled Sanguillen. 'Whenever I wanted to go out to the mound to talk to him, I had to ask the third baseman to come over and translate for us.'
   19. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 19, 2021 at 02:37 PM (#6019684)
I'll never forget that 7-for-7 game for a very specific reason. Back then the Pirates treated Wrigley Field like the Red Sox treat Camden Yards, kind of like a second home where they get to play T-ball at the plate. So on July 4th, when the Pirates came into Chicago for a doubleheader, I put down $100 on the Bucs for each game.

Naturally the Cubs won both games, I lost several hundred bucks (Pittsburgh was heavily favored), and I was so disgusted that I swore off baseball betting for the rest of the season.

But then the next time I happen to notice a Pirates-Cubs game in Wrigley, I see that 22 to 0 score and Stennett's 7-for-7. NOW these motherfuckers decide to play like they usually do in Wrigley, now that it doesn't do me a damn bit of good. Fuck these motherfuckers. (smile)
   20. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 19, 2021 at 07:23 PM (#6019766)
from David Laurila on twitter
Rennie Stennett scored 500 runs. He had 41 triples, 41 home runs, and 41 intentional walks. He had 33 sacrifice bunts and 33 sacrifice flies.

   21. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 20, 2021 at 08:42 AM (#6019894)
Rennie Stennett scored 500 runs. He had 41 triples, 41 home runs, and 41 intentional walks. He had 33 sacrifice bunts and 33 sacrifice flies.

If only he'd made it to 77....
   22. Itchy Row Posted: May 20, 2021 at 11:28 AM (#6019930)
It's fabulous that 7 for 7. How often do you even get a chance to bat 7 times in a 9 inning game? In yesterday's White Sox game, they got 18 hits and 8 BB and still no one came to the plate 7 times.
It looks like it happens in nine inning games a few times a year. It's happened once this year, when three Nationals came up seven times in this game last week.

Stathead says eight players have had 8 PA in nine-inning games, but none of them had more than 7 AB. Texas had two in the 30-3 game in 2007. The Phillies also had two 8-PA guys in a game they lost.
   23. sanny manguillen Posted: May 20, 2021 at 12:46 PM (#6019950)
500...41...41...41...33...33


Born 1951, debut 1971, last game 1981, died 2021.
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 21, 2021 at 08:42 AM (#6020037)
It's fabulous that 7 for 7. How often do you even get a chance to bat 7 times in a 9 inning game?

By coincidence, one of the first games I ever went to was a 22 to 1 game where the Yankees trounced the Nats.

Between walks and substitutions after the game was effectively over by the 4th innings, only two players got 7 ABs. Gene Woodling went 4 for 7 and Billy Martin went 3 for 7. Hank Bauer also had 7 PAs, but among them were 2 walks. Besides Woodling, the starting pitcher Whitey Ford also got 4 hits in 5 AB, his all time career high. It was 22 to 0 going into the last of the 8th, but a minor league callup pitcher blew the shutout.
   25. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 21, 2021 at 12:56 PM (#6020067)
I remember reading a baseball card factoid that Wade Boggs would run at 7:17 every day because he was superstitious and was hoping to go 7-for-7 at the plate that night. In retrospect that sounds pretty strange, since a lot of games today start before 7:17. Also you'd think after doing it every day and never going 7-for-7, he'd eventually try something else.

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