… and Maz’s homer is still the greatest ever
As a 13-year-old on Oct. 13, 1960, I was an eighth-grader at St. Brigid’s School in Lilly, Pa. Western Pennsylvania was electric with excitement because the Pittsburgh Pirates were in the World Series for the first time since 1927 -- and had not won it since 1925, 35 years.
As a young Pittsburgh sports fan, I was like so many others, just thrilled with the Bucs. The Steelers had been terrible for my entire life, and though I still rooted for them, at least the Pirates started to become competitive in the 1950s. Finally, in 1960 they won the pennant and faced the dastardly New York Yankees in the Series.
Somehow, the Bucs had managed to scrape out three close wins while being blown out in the other three. That did not matter. The Series was knotted at 3-3, setting up a fantastic finale in Pittsburgh.
Eighth Grade at St. Brigid's
At that time, the World Series was played during the day. Television had yet to rule the roost as it would later. So, Sister Rose Genieve, our teacher, told us that if we would behave ourselves and quietly do the work she assigned to us, we would be allowed to listen to the game on the radio. We were figuratively in heaven.
ESPN has called it the greatest game in World Series history, and I cannot disagree with that assessment.
However, I have never seen the entire game, just clips of it. A few years ago, I ordered a DVD of it, but watched just the last two innings, which were tremendous.
Finally, I decided to watch the entire game the other night as I worked out on my Nordic Track It did not disappoint me. What a recollection, particularly since the game ended with Bill Mazeroski’s home run in the bottom of the ninth for a 10-9 victory, the first World Series victory for the Pirates since 1925.
The Pirates jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings. The two runs in the first inning were because of a two-run home run by first baseman Rocky Nelson. The Yankees narrowed the lead to 4-1 with a single run in the fifth inning.
New York then asserted control of the game in the sixth when they scored four runs to take a 5-4 lead, keyed by a three-run home run by Yogi Berra. They added two more in the eighth to take a strong 7-4, putting together seven unanswered runs.
However, the key inning for the Bucs was the eighth. Aided by a bad-hop ground ball that could have been a double-play ball, the Bucs scored five runs to in the eighth. The huge hit was a 405-foot, three-run home run by catcher Hal Smith over the left-center wall in cavernous Forbes Field.
That gave the Pirates a 9-7 advantage going into the top of the ninth, but the Yanks scored twice to tie the game at 9-9.
That set up second baseman Bill Mazeroski’s home run, what would be called today a walk-off HR, in the bottom of the ninth of Yankees’ reliever Ralph Terry. It cleared the left-field wall, and allowed the Pirates crowd at Forbes Field, and throughout Western Pa., to experience joy that was a true collective community emotion.
It was the best victory for me of any Pittsburgh team, even better than the first Steelers Super Bowl. Part of that was because of my age. Part of it was also because it unleashed a period of winning by Pittsburgh teams that would be fabulous. We won again in 1971 and in 1979, and during the late 70s, the Steelers also started winning Super Bowls, four in six years from 1976 until 1979.
Those 19 years were special for those of us Pittsburgh fans who had suffered for so long.
Notes of the game
Vernon Law, the ace, started the game for Pittsburgh and went until the sixth, when he ran into trouble. He was relieved by the Bucs ace closer, Elroy Face, who struggled quite a bit.
Harvey Haddix eventually came on and won the game for the Bucs.
My difficulty remembering some details of that day
For years, I believed that I heard Bill Mazeroski’s home run in my eighth-grade classroom. I distinctly remember the class erupting with cheers, I thought when they won the game.
However, a few years ago, I realized that the game did not end until about 3:30, and our school dismissed at 3:00. So, where did I hear of his home run? I do not know because I distinctly remember having to go to the convent for my piano lesson after school. I remember talking about the game to Sister Angela, the first-grade teacher who taught piano, and another nun after my lesson.
We did jump with joy, but it was when Hal Smith hit what turned out to be the major play of the game, absent Maz’s heroics.
So, I never saw the game at all. [My mother insisted that we have no TV because it would hurt our grades, so we did not have one until I was in high school [and it never hurt our grades since we never watched it — my parents did.]
Therefore, this was the only time that I have seen the game from start to finish, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
But, I do not recall where I was when Maz hit that fabulous home run. I think that I might have had a piano lesson after school and did not know about Maz's homer until I reached home.
I am just not certain.
Chronology of the series
Game 1, Pirates 6, Yankees 4
Game 2, Yankees 16, Pirates 3
Game 3, Yankees 10, Pirates 0
Game 4, Pirates 3, Yankees 2
Game 5, Pirates 5, Yankees 2
Game 6, Yankees 12, Pirates 0
Game 7, Pirates 10, Yankees 9
Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com
Thursday, October 13, 1960
Venue: Forbes Field
Game Duration: 2:36
Day Game, on grass