Bay Area native, former SF Giants coach passes away

Gene Clines
Gene Clines / Jed Jacobsohn/GettyImages

A 10-year Major Leaguer, World Series champion, MVP vote-getter and longtime coach for different organizations, including the SF Giants, Gene Clines passed away Thursday at the age of 75.

Clines was an East Bay native: born in San Pablo and raised in Richmond, he graduated from Ells High School and was a sixth-round draft choice by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966, the second year of the MLB amateur draft.

After being drafted, Clines quickly showed off his abilities. He batted .358 with 15 stolen bases in the Rookie-level Appalachian League in 1966, and three years later he stole 63 bases in Double-A. He reached the Majors with Pittsburgh in 1970, going 15-for-37 in 31 games.

In 1971, Clines was a fourth outfielder on a Pirates squad that won the National League East, beat the Giants in the National League Championship Series and won the World Series in a seven-game nailbiter over the American League champion Baltimore Orioles.

Part of first all-minority lineup

On September 1, 1971, the Pirates fielded the first all-minority lineup in MLB history. Clines was in center field that day, and he was joined by Rennie Stennett (2B), Roberto Clemente (RF), Willie Stargell (LF), Manny Sanguillen (C), Dave Cash (3B), Al Oliver (1B), Jackie Hernandez (SS) and Dock Ellis (P).

Clines' best season was 1972, when he hit .334 with 15 doubles and six triples - all career-highs - and stole 12 bases. He finished 20th in MVP voting with six votes that season.

Clines' batting averages tailed off in his final two years with the Pirates, 1973-74, and he was traded to the New York Mets before the 1975 campaign.

After batting just .227 and being caught stealing as many times as he stole bases, the Mets dealt Clines to the Texas Rangers for 1976. In the Lone Star State he had a resurgence, hitting .276 and reaching double-digits in steals for the fourth (and final) time of his career.

The resurgence continued in 1977 with the Chicago Cubs, a season which saw Clines take his slugging to new heights. After hitting two career home runs in the Majors (one each in 1971 and 1973, as well as one in the 1971 NLCS against the Giants), Clines powered three round-trippers in just 239 at-bats. He went on to bat .258 for the Cubs in 1978 and was 2-for-10 at the plate when he was released early in 1979, which was his last action as a player.

For his career, Clines was a .277 hitter in 870 games.

After his playing days, Clines stayed on with the Cubs as a coach. In the late-80s and early-90s he was a hitting coach in the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers organizations, and in 1995 he returned to the Bay Area as a minor league hitting coordinator with the Giants. The next year, Dusty Baker made him the Giants' Major League hitting coach, a position he held until following Baker to the Cubs after the 2002 season. He later became a roving instructor and senior advisor with the Los Angeles Dodgers.