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Baseball great Al Oliver to speak May 26

Portsmouth native part of first all-black lineup

Former Major League Baseball great Al Oliver will speak at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, in Walter Hall Room 135. A question and answer session will follow the talk.

The Portsmouth, Ohio, native will discuss civil rights, growing up in southern Ohio, and his role on the 1971 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, which became the first team in major league baseball history to field an all-black lineup on Sept. 1, 1971.

The team is the topic of Bruce Markusen's 2006 book, "The Team that Changed Baseball – Roberto Clemente and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates." The historic lineup comprised Rennie Stennett (Colon, Panama), Gene Clines (San Pablo, Calif.), Roberto Clemente (Carolina, Puerto Rico), Willie Stargell (Earlsboro, Okla.), Manny Sanguillen (Colon, Panama), Dave Cash (Utica, N.Y.), Al Oliver (Portsmouth, Ohio), Jackie Hernandez (Central Tinguaro, Cuba), and Dock Ellis (Los Ángeles).

Oliver, a seven-time all-star with 2,743 career hits, played from 1968 to 1985. He was a three-time Silver Slugger, won the batting average title in 1982, and compiled a .303 career batting average. He finished his career in the top 100 in 16 categories including: doubles (34th), at-bats (65th), total bases (74th), games played (86th), extra-base hits (86th) and runs batted in (88th).

"As a kid growing up near Pittsburgh, he was always my favorite player," said Matthew Gladman, an adjunct professor with the Ohio University Contemporary History Institute, who coordinated Oliver's visit. "When you look at his statistics, he was more than an average baseball player, and I don't know why he's not in the hall of fame."

The talk is sponsored by University College, College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Diversity, Access and Equity, and the Office of the President.