The moment is forever etched in memory. Grainy black-and-white images on the family TV show Bill Mazeroski's home run sailing over outfielder Yogi Berra's head and the left-centerfield wall at Forbes Field, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates a dramatic 10-9 win and a World Series victory over the powerful New York Yankees.
The time is a little after 3:30 PM on October 13, as seen on the 'official' Longines clock mounted above the scoreboard. Pitcher Ralph Terry stands on the mound in shock as 'Maz' jubilantly races around the bases, waving his cap to the crowd and eventually jumping into a pile of fellow players and fans at home plate.
The 1960 World Series was the last one played before expansion, and it was the first one to be decided by a walk-off home run. The winning team was outscored 55-27 during the Series and the Most Valuable Player came from the losing team, something that's never happened since.
Yankees great Mickey Mantle openly wept at his locker after Game 7. The loss to the pitching-rich Pirates cost Yankees skipper Casey Stengel his job, as the media and owners Del Webb and Dan Topping wondered why he hadn't started ace Whitey Ford in Games 1, 4, and 7.
In the meantime, Pirates fans were frenzied, celebrating the last World Series ever to be played in the cozy confines of Forbes Field. Pirates legend Roberto Clemente picked up one of his two Series rings that year. Game 1 and Game 4 winning pitcher Vern Law captured the Cy Young award 1960 with a record of 20-9 and an ERA of 3.08, fanning 120 batters in 271+ innings. And fireman supreme Elroy Face saved 24 games that year, plus three World Series games.
Recently, a complete kinescope (film recording of live video) of Game 7 was discovered in (of all places) Bing Crosby's wine cellar. At the time, Crosby was a superstitious part-owner of the Pirates and couldn't bear to watch what he expected to be a Yankees Game 7 victory.
Instead, he and spouse Kathryn listened to the game with their friends Charles and Nonie de Limur in (of all places) Paris, using a shortwave radio. Crosby, an advocate for video tape recording technology as far back as the early 1950s, hired a company back in the USA to record the five-reel kinescope, which ran about two hours and 30 minutes and was apparently viewed by Crosby only once after the Series concluded.
A Snapshot in Time
To commemorate the Series, Topps issued an eight-card subset in its 1961 offering. This was the second time Topps included a World Series subset, with each card capturing a significant moment (more or less) from each Series game. Interestingly, these are some of the more difficult cards to find in high grade from the 1961 set.
If you are old enough to remember this historic Series, you probably had these cards as a kid – or your kids did. If not, here they are for your viewing pleasure, along with a summary of each game.
The Pirates got out to a flying start at home with a 6-4 win over New York. They jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first inning off Yanks starter Art Ditmar, added two more runs in the 4th inning, and a single run in the 6th to hold off the Bronx Bombers. Ditmar took the loss after getting yanked in the bottom of the first inning, and Mazeroski came through with a clutch performance, smacking a two-run home run in the 4th inning and scoring from first on a double in the 6th.
The 'empire' struck back in Game 2, with Yankee hitters breaking out in the 3rd inning against Bucs starter Bob Friend for a pair of runs. They added three by the end of the 5th inning, and then the roof fell in on the Pirates as New York plated seven more runs in the 6th off ex-Dodger Clem Labine. Mickey Mantle showed his power with two home runs as the Yankees collected 19 hits and 16 runs to the Pirates' 3 runs. Bob Turley collected the win, with Bobby Shantz pitching one inning of relief.
The New York power surge continued in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. Bobby Richardson took a cue from Mantle and drove in four runs with a grand slam in the 1st inning off the unfortunate Labine, who had relieved Wilmer "Vinegar Bend" Mizell. New York added four more runs in the bottom of the fourth, capped by Richardson's two-run single, giving him six RBIs for the game. Meanwhile, Yankee ace Whitey For pitched a four-hit shutout complete game, as four more Pirate relievers tried in vain to stem the flood.
After being outscored 30-9 and using fourteen pitchers in the first three games, you might think the Pirates were ready to call it quits. Not so fast! In a real nail-biter, Law came back and teamed with Face to twirl a 3-2 victory, limiting New York to a solo home run by Bill Skowron and another RBI by Richardson on a force-out. Yanks starter Ralph Terry pitched decently for six innings, but his seven-hit effort wasn't good enough as the Bucs bunched all three of their runs in the 5th and made them stand up.
Once again, manager Casey Stengel baffled the baseball experts and started Art Ditmar, who pitched one scoreless inning and got knocked out in the 2nd by (guess who) Bill Mazeroski, who doubled in two runs. The Yankees responded with a single run in the bottom of the 2nd, promptly answered in the top of the 3rd by Roberto Clemente driving in Dick Groat. Harvey Haddix and Roy face held New York at bay from the 4th inning on for a 5-2 victory and a 3-2 Series lead, taking two of three games in Yankee Stadium.
Stengel went with the sure thing this time, starting Ford who responded with another complete game shutout, 12-0. The 'Chairman of the Board' allowed just seven hits while Bucs starter Bob Friend gave up six runs in three innings. Five more Pirates relievers followed him to the mound, to no avail. Amazingly, no home runs were hit in the game, but Mantle, Berra, Skowron, and Richardson all drove in runs during the frenetic 3rd frame. Richardson tripled in the 7th inning and drove in his 12th run, setting a Series record and earning him the Most Valuable Player award.
All the marbles were on the line. Pirates skipper Danny Murtaugh once again sent his ace Vern Law to the mound, and the Pirates rewarded him with two runs each in the bottom of the 1st and 2nd innings. But the gods of baseball weren't smiling on the Pirates – yet – as the Yankees stormed back with a run in the 5th and four more in the 6th inning to take the lead. They added two more in the top of the 8th for what seemed to be an insurmountable 7-4 lead.
Then fate stepped in. After Gino Cimoli singled, Bill Virdon hit a chopper at Tony Kubek that smacked him in the throat, leaving Virdon safe at second. Dick Groat also singled, and Clemente singled off reliever Jim Coates, scoring Virdon. Hal Smith came to the plate and promptly hit one out of the park, putting the Pirates back in the lead by a score of 9-7.
Ralph Terry was summoned to come in and stop the bleeding, which he did. New York backed him up with a wild top of the 9th when Richardson and Dale Long singled off Bucs reliever Bob Friend, who was promptly yanked for Harvey Haddix. Haddix didn't fare much better, allowing a hit to Mantle, scoring Richardson with run #8.
One batter later, Yogi Berra grounded out to first with pinch-runner Gil McDougald on third. Amazingly, Mantle - who had a good lead - avoided 1st baseman Rocky Nelson's tag with a sensational fake towards second, followed by a slide back to first base under Nelson's attempted tag. McDougald scored in the confusion, tying the game at 9-all. (You can see Mantle's slide in the Crosby kinescope.)
What happened afterwards is now legend. Ralph Terry was brought in to close out the ninth inning and the first pitch he threw to Bill Mazeroski was a ball. The second pitch, however, became history by landing somewhere in the trees across Schenley Drive.
This incredible World Series ended with the Pirates being outscored two to one and out-hit 91 to 60. Stengel quipped that he lost his job after the Series for being 70 "and I'll never make that mistake again." When asked what pitch he threw to Mazeroski, Terry replied, "I don't know what pitch it was. All I know is that it was the wrong pitch."
Mazeroski was recently honored with a statue outside PNC Park, commemorating his home run trot with cap held high. Every year on October 13, Pirates fans gather at what's left of Forbes Field to celebrate and remember the anniversary of Game 7. A street (Roberto Clemente Drive) now runs through the outfield and a University of Pittsburgh academic building occupies the infield and grandstand area.
Still, you can find the marker in a nearby sidewalk that shows where Maz' blast left the park. Home plate sits securely under a Plexiglass cover in Wesley Posvar Hall, while a small piece of the outfield wall remains along the east side of Clemente Drive, with the flagpole as well.
As for Mazeroski's HR ball? According to a September 19 story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, it was recovered by 14-year-old Andy Jerpe, who was escorted by police into the beer-drenched Pirates clubhouse to get signatures from Maz and Hal Smith. Amazingly, Jerpe later lost the ball playing a sandlot game with his friends the following spring. It was hit into tall weeds and grass and was never recovered after hours of searching.
A legendary end to a legendary World Series...
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