Rennie Stennett, two-time Pirates World Series champ and only man to go 7-for-7, dies at 72

Rennie Stennett, etched forever in the baseball record books as the first and only player to go 7-for-7 in a major league game, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced. He was 72. 

Stennett was a two-time World Series champion with the Pirates, and was their primary second baseman for the 1979 "We Are Family" champions, who triumphed in a seven-game World Series over the Baltimore Orioles.

Stennett's career extends to the great Roberto Clemente, as he debuted on the 1971 team that also prevailed as World Series champions, one year before Clemente died in a plane crash on a humanitarian mission. 

Rennie Stennett, left, with Brandon Crawford who tied Stennett's record of seven hits in one game in 2016. (Photo: Eric Espada, Getty Images)

Yet Stennett's ultimate claim to fame came Sept. 16, 1975, when he recorded seven hits in seven at-bats in a 22-0 rout of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. 

Stennett's day was so prolific that he recorded two hits in a pair of innings, and even recorded hits off a set of brothers – two off starter Rick Reuschel in the first, and the record-breaking hit off Rick's brother, Paul, in the eighth.

His ledger looked like this:

Double, single, single, double, single, single, triple. 

That final drive into right field broke a tie with 43 players, including Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Paul Waner, who enjoyed 6-for-6 games.

Stennett was a career .274 hitter, with a .306 on-base percentage, batting a career-best .336 for the Pirates in 1977, one of two seasons in which he received MVP votes. He concluded his 11-year career in 1980, his second season with the Giants.

He was never an All-Star, yet his singular feat remains unmatched – albeit barely. San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford went 7 for 8 in a 2016 game at Miami, and on a subsequent road trip posed with Stennett, whose day of perfection somehow stands alone.

"It's been more than 30 years now, and I'm surprised nobody's done it yet," Stennett said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in 2009. “Your team has to score a lot for you to get up to the plate that many times."

We are saddened to relay the news that a beloved member of the Pirates family, Rennie Stennett, passed this morning at the age of 72.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Stennett family as we join in their grief.

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