Sunday, June 19, 2011

The 1971 Series was played in a different world

Oriels are coming to town-

Charles Manson got the death penalty that spring, though it was later deemed unconstitutional.

The Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles played six World Series games in broad daylight that fall, though daylight in the World Series was later deemed unconstitutional, at least effectively.

Seven thousand people were arrested in one day in one city protesting the Vietnam War that summer, just as the Constitution's 26th amendment was ready to give 18-year-olds the vote.

Forty years may have cobwebbed all of it amid drifts of mental dust, but a lot went down in 1971.

"It did; oh, it did," Al Oliver was saying the other day. "I didn't think much about it at the time, but I do now. I feel fortunate to have been part of history."

The Pirates first baseman/centerfielder, who was delivering line drives the whole summer, was talking specifically about the first day of September 1971, when manager Danny Murtaugh wrote the first all-minority lineup in Major League Baseball history. But he could have been appreciating the entirety of a season when cultural turbulence was little else but America's day-to-day backlighting, and when America's baseball was little short of divine.

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