Tag Archives: Dick Groat history

“Two-Sport Man”
Pittsburgh’s Dick Groat

Early 1950s. Dick Groat, All-American basketball star at Duke University, became a pro baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals & Philadelphia Phillies.
Early 1950s. Dick Groat, All-American basketball star at Duke University, became a pro baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals & Philadelphia Phillies.
Dick Groat grew up in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania in the 1940s, only a few miles from the Forbes Field baseball park in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, then home of the Pittsburgh Pirates professional baseball team.

Some years later, Groat would become a key player on the famous Pittsburgh Pirates team of 1960. That team — with a roster of other key players, including Vernon Law, Bob Friend, Hal Smith, Harvey Haddix, Bill Mazeroski and others — would upset the heavily-favored New York Yankees team of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, et. al, in the World Series that year in an historic and memorable Game 7 drama.

In fact, Dick Groat, as a Pittsburgh Pirate, would become quite the standout that year – serving as the Pirate’s team captain, winning the National League batting title with an average of .325, and also collecting the 1960 National League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.

But before his baseball heroics, there was basketball, as Dick Groat had also been an All-American basketball player at Duke University in the early 1950s, a nationally=ranked player who was selected by the then Fort Wayne (and later, Detroit) Pistons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft.

And for a time, Dick Groat thought he might try to play both professional sports for a few years. But in the end, baseball won out, yet basketball always tugged at his soul.

Groat was born in November 1930, the youngest of five children. As a boy growing up in the Pittsburgh area, he played more basketball that baseball, at least initially. “I played probably 20 times more basketball than I did baseball. Nobody in my neighborhood played Little League in those days…”

Dick Groat, 1954 Pittsburgh Pirates; Topps baseball card.
Dick Groat, 1954 Pittsburgh Pirates; Topps baseball card.
The first time he really started to play baseball was during his sophomore year in high school. He honed his athletic skills at Swissvale High School, where he played both baseball and basketball, and also volleyball.

Groat was not a exceptionally big guy – just at 5′ 11’’, but had grit and athletic talent enough that he stood out among his peers. And when the colleges came after him, he chose Duke, receiving a basketball scholarship there, where he would also play baseball.

Groat excelled at Duke, becoming an All-American in both sports in 1951 and 1952. But it was his basketball play that distinguished Groat during his collegiate years. Roy Terrell of Sports Illustrated would later write of Groat’s basketball talents at Duke:

…As a scorer he was almost impossible to stop. He could hit from outside with a two-hand set shot or confound and confuse the opposition with his driving, stop-and-go dribble in close. He was one of the first to realize the value of the one-hand jump shot, and he used it; he was also an exceptional rebounder for his size, a tough defensive man and perhaps the best playmaker ever seen in the old Southern Conference.

In 1951 at Duke he was named the Helms Foundation Player of the Year. In 1952, he became the first and only player to lead the nation in both scoring and assists. In fact, some who watched him play were astonished at his production – one calculating that with his points and assists he was sometimes accounting for more than 55 percent of Duke’s points. In 1952 UPI named him National Player of the Year after he set an NCAA record with 839 points

Dick Groat of Duke University driving for the bucket during his collegiate career in a game against Temple.
Dick Groat of Duke University driving for the bucket during his collegiate career in a game against Temple.
Groat’s last home game with Duke was against North Carolina in late February 1952, a game in which he had an especially hot hand, finishing with 48 points, the most allowed in a game by the Tar Heels. Duke won that game, 94-64, and Groat was carried off the court on the shoulders of Duke students.

Groat’s 48-point performance that game, became the single-game scoring record for a Duke player. The record would stand for 36 years until December 1988 when Danny Ferry of Duke scored 58 points against Miami.

Still, in Groat’s time at Duke, the university was not keen on post-season participation of its athletic teams.

“We were 24-6 in my senior year in basketball,” Groat would recall in a later interview, “and the administration wouldn’t let us play in the NIT.”

Duke that year had upset national No. 1 West Virginia, 90-88, in the Southern Conference semifinals, but lost in the Southern Conference championship game to N.C. State, who went on to the NCAA playoffs.

In the NBA draft of April 1952, Groat was selected 3rd overall pick in round one by the Fort Wayne (later, Detroit) Pistons. He was still in college at the time, and in fact, playing his final year of college baseball that spring as well.

Dick Goat was drafted 3rd overall in the 1952 NBA draft and played briefly with the Ft. Wayne Pistons.
Dick Goat was drafted 3rd overall in the 1952 NBA draft and played briefly with the Ft. Wayne Pistons.
And on the Duke baseball team, Groat was also a standout. In 1951, he hit .386 and helped his team to the College World Series, where they won their first game against Oregon State, but dropped out of the tournament after losses to Penn State and Western Michigan.

In the next season with Duke, Groat hit .370, and was again named All American. He also led the team that year in doubles, hits, runs batted in, and stolen bases.

In his collegiate career, Groat was a two-time winner of the McKelvin Award, given to the Athlete of the Year in the Southern Conference.

Pro baseball scouts, meanwhile, had noticed Groat’s play, and by 1952, three teams were interested – the Pirates, the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Giants. The Pirates had a leg up in the competition, as Pirate scouts and general manager Branch Rickey had been following Groat’s collegiate play. In fact, Groat had been invited to a workout with the Pirates in the summer while still in his junior year at Duke. Branch Rickey wanted to sign him then, offering to put him in the Pirates’ lineup the next night if he signed a contract on the spot.

But Groat said he felt an obligation to finish what he started at Duke, planning to play basketball and baseball in his senior year. But if Rickey made him the same offer a year later, he said, he’d be glad to sign with the Pirates. Rickey agreed to bide his time. A year later, a few days after the conclusion of the College World Series, Groat signed a five-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, then joining the team in New York where he played the next night at the Polo Grounds in a game against the New York Giants.

June 1952. Dick Groat, fresh from the College Baseball World Series of 1952, shakes hands with Branch Rickey, General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, after signing a baseball contract to play with the Pirates, as Groat’s father looks on.
June 1952. Dick Groat, fresh from the College Baseball World Series of 1952, shakes hands with Branch Rickey, General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, after signing a baseball contract to play with the Pirates, as Groat’s father looks on.

Groat played with the Pirates through the remaining games of the 1952 season, hitting .284 in 95 games that summer. But after the first season with the Pirates, he returned to Duke, where he planned on finishing his degree. However, the Ft. Wayne Pistons were still hot on his trail and wanted Groat to play basketball for them that fall.

But since Groat was finishing his degree at Duke in Durham, North Carolina, he had assumed that he wouldn’t be able to play in the NBA – “because they were in Fort Wayne and I was in Durham.” But the Pistons really wanted him. “They said they would fly me out for the games, so I flew out and played an exhibition and scored a bunch of points and they wanted to keep me around. So they just flew me into wherever they were playing.” Still, the hectic schedule of games on the road and classes at back Duke almost caused him to end his basketball career, as he later recalled:

“At one point… the weather grounded me in Detroit and I had to cut a class. In those days, if you cut three classes during one semester you were kicked out of the school. My father would have killed me if I didn’t graduate since I only needed nine credits, so I called the Pistons and told them that I quit. They told me that they had to have me back and that the owner would get me a private plane to get me back for my classes on time. Along with that, they doubled my salary, so I was making more in basketball than in baseball. With the new arrangement, I would play with my team on Monday and play at places like Madison Square Garden, and then I’d go to class Wednesday and then fly out to the next game….”

Pittsburgh Pirate shortstop and NL MVP in 1960, Dick Groat, is featured on the August 8th 1960 cover of Sports Illustrated - “Fiery Leader of the Pirates.” Click for copy.
Pittsburgh Pirate shortstop and NL MVP in 1960, Dick Groat, is featured on the August 8th 1960 cover of Sports Illustrated - “Fiery Leader of the Pirates.” Click for copy.
Dick Groat had a .325 batting average in 1960, helping the Pirates take the NL pennant & himself, the MVP award.
Dick Groat had a .325 batting average in 1960, helping the Pirates take the NL pennant & himself, the MVP award.
By 1961, on the heels of the Pirates’ 1960 World Series win, and his own MVP year, Groat was getting top billing alongside Mickey Mantle on the early season reports. Click for copy.
By 1961, on the heels of the Pirates’ 1960 World Series win, and his own MVP year, Groat was getting top billing alongside Mickey Mantle on the early season reports. Click for copy.
At a 1961 spring training game, Groat continued to get head- liner treatment, here with NY Yankee slugger Roger Maris.
At a 1961 spring training game, Groat continued to get head- liner treatment, here with NY Yankee slugger Roger Maris.
In May 1961, Groat continues to receive top billing along side big stars like Mantle and football great, Jim Taylor.
In May 1961, Groat continues to receive top billing along side big stars like Mantle and football great, Jim Taylor.
1960s: Pittsburgh Pirates Roberto Clemente and Dick Groat checking out the Pirate lumber. Click for signed photo.
1960s: Pittsburgh Pirates Roberto Clemente and Dick Groat checking out the Pirate lumber. Click for signed photo.

During his 1952-53 season with the Pistons, Groat played 26 games of the 69-game schedule. He scored 309 points on 100 (two-point) field goals and 109 free throws, with 86 rebounds, averaging 11.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He then had two years of military service, where he continued to excel in both basketball and baseball.

During his time at the U.S. Army base in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., he led his teams to worldwide Army championships in both baseball and basketball – the first time a single U.S. Army base had won both titles in the same year.

In his Army play, Groat compiled a .362 batting average in baseball and a 35 points-per-game average in basketball.

In 1955, at the completion of his military service, Groat returned to Pittsburgh, ready to resume his two-sport pro careers with the Pistons and the Pirates.

“I honestly felt it would be all right to play both sports for a number of years.” But Pirate’s general manager Branch Rickey was not happy with that prospect. Rickey believed the two sports were different, and the demands on the human body would be too great – at a cost, Rickey believed, for the baseball side of the equation.

In trying to convince Rickey he could play both sports, Groat cited the example of Gene Conley, who pitched for the Milwaukee Braves pro baseball team in 1952 and also played pro basketball for the Boston Celtics.

“Don’t bring up Conley with me,” Rickey told Groat. “As a starting pitcher he only works every fourth or fifth day, and he’s only a backup center in basketball. You are a regular player in both baseball and basketball. I think you should realize that eventually you won’t justify your salary in either sport”. Rickey didn’t think an every-day player could do both.

Still, Groat said he had considered breaking his baseball contract in order to rejoin the Pistons, who had offered a higher salary and would also allow him to leave the team early for spring baseball training.

But in the end, Groat’s father weighed in as well. He was pretty insistent that his son stick with baseball, especially since in those years, professional baseball was considered the premiere, prestige professional sport – “America’s game.” More than either football or basketball at that time, baseball was the great American pastime. And legally, Groat had signed a five-year bonus contract with Rickey and the Pirates.

So, that was the end of Groat’s professional basketball career, but not the end of basketball in his life. More on that later. Still, Groat is one of 13 athletes who have played in the NBA and the Major Leagues.

The Pirates in the 1950s, meanwhile, were something of a doormat club in the National League, as Rickey was then on a building mission, soon to add high-caliber talent.

Rickey had come to the Pirates as General Manager in 1950, after he had made history with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 by bringing in Jackie Robinson as the first African American player in Major League baseball.

But with Pittsburgh, Rickey had some tough seasons while he tried to rebuild. In 1952, the Pirates had one of the worst seasons in major league history, finishing with 42 wins and 112 losses, 54½ games out of first place.

Rickey had previously invented the farm system with the Cardinals, and built powerful teams with both the Cardinals and the Dodgers. Now in Pittsburgh, he set out to do the same, bringing in new blood and younger players.

Among Rickey’s successful picks were pitchers Vernon Law, Bob Friend and Elroy Face, second baseman Bill Mazeroski, outfielder Roberto Clemente, drafted from Brooklyn, and Dick Groat. These players, and a few others, would form the nucleus of the Pirates’ 1960 championship club.

Groat for his part had a few tough years at the outset, but soon found his footing. At shortstop, though not endowed with exceptional speed or the strongest arm, he was a very smart defender, typically taking the right field position for each hitter.

At the plate, by 1957, Groat was the fifth best in the National League, batting .315. In 1958 he hit .300, and led the league in putouts and double plays as the Pirates finished in second place. In 1959, he again led the league in putouts and double plays and made his first of five All-Star teams. However, in the off-season that year, he was nearly traded for Roger Maris, but the deal was cancelled by manager Danny Murtaugh.

In 1960, at age 29, Groat had a banner year with the Bucs, becoming team captain. He hit for a .325 average that year with 189 hits, winning the National League batting title. By August 1960, Groat made the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, with the cover tagline, “Fiery Leader of the Pirates.”

Groat would also win the National League’s Most Valuable Player trophy in 1960, and help the Pirates to their World Series victory over the NY Yankees, though having just recovered from a broken wrist.

In the Series, Groat tied Game 1 at 1-1 with a first-inning double and scored to give Pittsburgh the lead, eventually winning that game 6-4, with Groat turning a double play to end the game. In Game 7, he had an RBI single and scored in the 8th inning, in which the Pirates scored 5 runs to take a 9-7 lead, eventually winning that game and the Series on Bill Mazeroski’s famed walk-off home run.

In 1961 Groat batted .275, and together with Mazeroski led the league in double plays. In 1962 he batted .294, finishing third in the league in doubles with 34, also leading the league in putouts, assists, and double plays.

But in November 1962, Dick Groat was caught by surprise, as then general manager Joe L. Brown, in need of pitching support, traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Don Cardwell.

July 22, 1963: Dick Groat on the cover of Sports Illustrated – “A Hitting Shortstop On a Hard-Hitting Team.” Click for copy.
July 22, 1963: Dick Groat on the cover of Sports Illustrated – “A Hitting Shortstop On a Hard-Hitting Team.” Click for copy.
October 1964: St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Dick Groat and pitcher Bob Gibson celebrate the 1964 World Series championship. (Sports Illustrated photo).
October 1964: St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Dick Groat and pitcher Bob Gibson celebrate the 1964 World Series championship. (Sports Illustrated photo).
April 18, 1966. Dick Groat on the cover of Sports Illustrated showing his "hit-and-run" form, then thought to be a help to the Phillies pennant hopes. Click for copy.
April 18, 1966. Dick Groat on the cover of Sports Illustrated showing his "hit-and-run" form, then thought to be a help to the Phillies pennant hopes. Click for copy.
1967. Groat in his final season with the San Francisco Giants.
1967. Groat in his final season with the San Francisco Giants.

In St. Louis…

Dick Groat was deeply hurt by the trade to St. Louis, having set his sights on possibly coaching and managing in Pittsburgh after his playing years.

“I was heartbroken to hear that I had been traded. Pittsburgh is my hometown and I never wanted to leave. It’s the greatest city in the world and I never wanted to leave. That was one of the toughest winters that I’ve ever spent….”

In fact, for a time after the trade to St. Louis, Groat severed all contact with the Pirate organization (though later restored in 1990 after a team reunion).

In St. Louis, though, Groat became a key member of one of the best hitting infields ever assembled , including Ken Boyer at third base, Groat at shortstop, Julian Javier and Bill White at first)

By July 1963, Sports Illustrated was praising Groat’s play: “Groat, still the same deadly opposite-field hitter he was when he won the National League batting title in 1960, uses a log for a bat and merely slaps the ball wherever it is pitched.”

Groat would later say of his first year in St. Louis, “… I had the best year of my career in 1963 with the Cardinals. I hit in front of Stan Musial the whole season and I had never seen so many good pitches to hit.”

Groat finished finished fourth in the National League that year with a .319 batting average – just seven points off the top average that year – compiling 201 hits. He also led the league with 43 doubles, and was third in triples with 11. And in a year when Los Angeles Dodger pitching sensation, Sandy Koufax, was striking out everything in sight and would win the National League’s MVP award, Dick Groat was the runnerup for that award. He also earned an All-Star appearance that year.

In 1964 he batted .292 for the pennant-winning Cardinals, also leading the league in assists and double plays and making his last All-Star team.

In the 1964 World Series against the Yankees, he reached base on Bobby Richardson’s error in the sixth inning of Game 4, and scored on Ken Boyer’s grand slam in the 4-3 St. Louis victory. Groat also tagged out Mickey Mantle in the third inning of that game on a pickoff play. He scored in the 3-run tenth inning of Game 5, a 5-2 win, and had an RBI groundout in the final 7-5 win in Game 7.

 
To Philadelphia

After hitting .254 for the Cardinals in 1965, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in a six-player deal. The Phillies that year were a good prospect for a National League pennant, according to Sports Illustrated, and Groat, a good hit-and-run man, was seen as someone who could help them get there.

The Phillies finished in the top half of the National League that year, in fourth place, at 87 and 75. Dick Groat hit .265 for the year, and his contract was sold midway through the next season, in June 1967, to the Giants (by then in San Francisco). He then split that 1967 season between the Phillies and the San Francisco Giants, ending his career that year with a .156 average in 44 games.

In his Major League baseball career, spanning 14 years and some 1,929 games, Dick Groat compiled a .286 batting average with 2,138 hits, 39 home runs, 829 runs scored, 707 runs batted in, 352 doubles, and 14 stolen bases. He made five all-star teams and won two World Series rings, one with the Pirates (1960) and St. Louis Cardinals (1964).

At the end of his playing career, Dick Groat returned to the Pittsburgh area. For many years when he played baseball, Groat had worked during the off-season as a salesman for Jessup Steel in Washington, Pennsylvania. But in 1965 he took a new direction. Groat and former Pirates teammate Jerry Lynch built a public golf course, called Champion Lakes, in the Laurel Valley, 50 miles east of Pittsburgh. And for some years thereafter, Groat would spend a good deal of time living at Champion Lakes and managing day-to-day operations there.

 
Back to Basketball

But then in 1979, a new opportunity came Groat’s way – one that brought him back to his first love, basketball. That’s when the University of Pittsburgh reached out to him about becoming a broadcaster for the Pitt men’s games in Division 1 NCAA play. He didn’t hesitate on the offer.

2018. Groat being honored at a Duke-Pitt basketball game.
2018. Groat being honored at a Duke-Pitt basketball game.

Dick Groat was then in his version of basketball heaven! For the next 40 basketball seasons, Groat was a Pitt Panthers’ radio sportscaster, alongside partner Bill Hillgrove.

In March 2019, his tenure as a Pitt broadcaster was ended at age 88, though feeling he still had a few more seasons left. But Dick Groat was always grateful for the experience, saying at one point:

2015. Honored on Duke-Pitt program.
2015. Honored on Duke-Pitt program.
“I could have never pictured myself becoming a broadcaster, but thank God that this has happened because it’s an absolute joy to me and I’ve loved every minute of it. I love college basketball. It was my first love. And just being around all of the kids keeps me young. Every day that I walk into a basketball arena is a joy to me.”

And over the years in Pittsburgh, and on the road, there have been special moments for Groat, some commemorating his basketball feats of the past, and others celebrating reunions with former baseball teammates, and various other special events where he has been honored.

In 2007, Groat was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Four years later, in 2011 he was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. With that induction, he became the first man ever inducted into both the college basketball and college baseball halls of fame.

In March 2014, at the opening day of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball season, Groat was there at PNC Park along with Barry Bonds and Andrew McCutchen as honored guests. In mid-January 2015, when Pitt played Duke at the Cameron Indoor Stadium, a photo of Dick Groat of 1952 dribbling down court was featured on the game’s program cover. Back in Pittsburgh, meanwhile, in mid-2018, the City Council announced that “Dick Groat Day” would be celebrated on June 12, 2018. For Dick Groat, the years have been mostly kind, filled with a two-sport collection of many fans and many fine memories.

Duke University's hot young guard, Dick Groat (#10), eluding Temple defenders, and taking the ball to the bucket, early 1950s.
Duke University's hot young guard, Dick Groat (#10), eluding Temple defenders, and taking the ball to the bucket, early 1950s.

Readers of this story may also find “The Mazeroski Moment” of interest — a story about the famous 1960 World Series games between the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees, including background on each team’s 1960 season, key players, and review of the seven World Series games, with photos. See also the “Annals of Sport” category page for additional sports stories. And basketball fans may also find these stories of interest: “Basketball Dollars: NCAA History,” about how NCAA tournament basketball has grown in recent years to become a big money and big media enterprise; and “Bill Bradley, 1960s-2009,” about the former Princeton and New York Knicks basketball star who went on to become a U.S. Senator, presidential candidate, and author of several best-selling books.

Thanks for visiting — and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

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Date Posted: 22 March 2019
Last Update: 22 March 2019
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Two-Sport Man: Pittsburgh’s Dick Groat,”
PopHistoryDig.com, March 22, 2019.

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Sources, Links & Additional Information

Dick Groat/ Frank Dascenzo 1978 book, "Groat: I Hit and Ran," Moore Publishing. Click for book.
Dick Groat/ Frank Dascenzo 1978 book, "Groat: I Hit and Ran," Moore Publishing. Click for book.
Dick Groat / Bill Surface 1961 book, "The World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates," Coward-McCann. Click for book.
Dick Groat / Bill Surface 1961 book, "The World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates," Coward-McCann. Click for book.

Walter Bingham, “Dick Groat and His Hitting Machine,” Sports Illustrated, July 22, 1963.

William Leggett, “Whose Turn in the Fratricidal National?,” Sports Illustrated, April 18, 1966.

Associated Press, “His First Sport: Ferry’s 58 Points Broke Duke Record Few Realized That Ex-Pirate Dick Groat Held,” Los Angeles Times, December 16, 1988.

Bill Brill, “Duke-UNC Memories: Dick Groat,” Blue Devil Weekly, March 5, 2004.

Steve Treder, “The Branch Rickey Pirates (Part 3: 1951-1952),” The Hardball Times, March 31, 2009.

Joseph Wancho, “Dick Groat,” Society for American Baseball Research, 2013.

Johnny Moore, “An Interview With Former Two-Sport Star Dick Groat,” GoDuke (The Magazine), June 6, 2014.

Al Yellon, “Cubs Historical Sleuthing: All-Star Edition” (There aren’t too many photos around of this game), BleedCubbieBlue.com, February 17, 2018.

Christine Coleman, “Cardinals Throwback Thursday: Basketball Stars Bob Gibson and Dick Groat,” AaronMilesFastball.com, March 20, 2014.

Chip Alexander, “He Twice Won the World Series. But Before That, He Was a Duke Basketball Star,” NewsObserver.com, January 23, 2018.

Ben Hamrick, “Baseball Legend and Pride of Swissvale,” Pittsburgh.com, June 6, 2016.

Brian Rzeppa, “An Interview With Pittsburgh Sports Legend Dick Groat,” BucsDugout.com, February 4, 2016.

James Crabtree-Hannigan, “Pittsburgh City Council Names June 12, 2018, ‘Dick Groat Day’ To Honor Pitt Broadcaster,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 12, 2018.

Ron Cook, “Ron Cook: Dick Groat is The Best Athlete To Come Out of Western Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 13, 2018.

Jerry DiPaola, “In 40th and Final Year, Dick Groat Reflects on Broadcasting Pitt Basketball,” TribLive.com, March 13, 2019.

“Dick Groat,” Wikipedia.org.

“Guide to the Dick Groat Collection, 1948-1955,” David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Duke University.

 
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“The Mazeroski Moment”
1960 World Series

It was the ultimate in baseball – the final, showdown Game 7 of a World Series. The place was Forbes Field, a classic baseball park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was October 13th, 1960, that time of year when the last warm days of summer begin to meet crisper fall afternoons. Excitement was already in the air generally, both in Pittsburgh and throughout the nation, as a presidential election race was also underway and a young man named John F. Kennedy was offering the country something new. Later that evening, in fact, Kennedy and his Republican opponent, vice president Richard Nixon, would debate on national television for the third time. But the business at hand in Pittsburgh that afternoon wasn’t politics; it was baseball.

October 1960; Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: No. 9 of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bill Mazeroski, has just hit a pitch that is heading for the trees beyond the left field wall. It is an historic home run, occurring in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7, a walk-off home run that wins the World Series, beating the favored New York Yankees. Photo, Marvin E. Newman
October 1960; Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: No. 9 of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bill Mazeroski, has just hit a pitch that is heading for the trees beyond the left field wall. It is an historic home run, occurring in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7, a walk-off home run that wins the World Series, beating the favored New York Yankees. Photo, Marvin E. Newman

The New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates were tied in this World Series, each having won 3 games. Now, in the bottom of the ninth inning of their showdown Game 7, the score was tied, 9-to-9, as the numerals on the Forbes Field hand-operated scoreboard would reflect. However, a magical moment was about to unfold – “the Mazeroski moment” – shown above and named for Pirate second baseman, Bill Mazeroski, No. 9, who was then batting.

“Maz,” as he was called, had just hit a baseball that would leave the confines of Forbes Field. The clutch, game-winning home run marked Mazeroski in that instant — and for the ages — as a hero for hitting one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. In fact, the Mazeroski blast still stands today as the only World Series-winning walk-off home run in a game 7.

On some versions of the above photo, just off and above the upper right-hand corner of the scoreboard clock, the feint outlines of the baseball in flight can be seen. It was on a path to clear the left field wall where Yankee player, Yogi Berra, seen distantly in the outfield, is already reacting. (A colorized painting of this same scene in included at the very bottom of this story).

Oct 14, 1960: Headlines from the New York Daily News delivers the bad news to New York Yankee fans, showing Bill Mazeroski making his jubilant run to home plate.
Oct 14, 1960: Headlines from the New York Daily News delivers the bad news to New York Yankee fans, showing Bill Mazeroski making his jubilant run to home plate.
Mazeroski’s home run was that dream heroic moment that every kid who loves baseball fantasizes about. A bottom-of-the ninth, game-winning home run – and more. But this was much more than your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill, bottom-of-the-ninth-inning home run since it came in the World Series. And yet it was even more than that – a home run of “David-vs.-Goliath” proportion, in fact, since it had toppled the powerhouse New York Yankees – make that the “dynasty” Yankees, a team filled with superstars such as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and others.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, of course, had good players of their own that year – among them Roberto Clemente, Dick Groat, Don Hoak, and pitchers Bob Friend, Vernon Law, and Elroy Face, among others. But the Yankees were still heavily favored to win. Few, if any bookies placing odds on the Series that fall had picked the Pirates to win. And for Pittsburgh, when it came to the New York Yankees, there were some long-lingering bad memories from the last time the Pirates and the Yankees faced off in a World Series. That was 1927, when the Yankees had Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, both of whom proceeded to put on a home run clinic that intimidated and humiliated Pittsburgh, as the Yankees swept the Pirates in four straight games.

Pittsburgh in 1960 was also city that had a very long drought when it came to winning baseball titles. The Pirates had not won a World Series since 1925 and for much of the 1950s had been one of the worst teams in the majors. In fact, a particularly bad run of nine consecutive losing seasons was fresh in memory. Pittsburgh, in short, was then a city starved for baseball glory – and for that matter – sports glory of almost any kind. The Pittsburgh Steelers football team was then a dozen years away from winning their first playoff game. The Penguins ice hockey team was seven years away from being born. So, when the 1960 World Series came to town, there was a lot of pent-up hope and expectation – not only in Pittsburgh, but throughout the entire Western Pennsylvania region as well. What follows here is a recounting of some of that World Series, which had drama throughout and beyond “The Mazeroski Moment” – and there’s also a Bing Crosby connection. More on that later.


Time & Place

Pittsburgh in more recent times at the juncture of the Allegheny & Monongahela Rivers, with Cathedral of Learning visible in the far distance, top center, marking former location of Forbes Field.
Pittsburgh in more recent times at the juncture of the Allegheny & Monongahela Rivers, with Cathedral of Learning visible in the far distance, top center, marking former location of Forbes Field.
October 1960 was both a tense and exciting time for Pittsburgh and America. It was the height of the Cold War and the space race with the Soviet Union. Months earlier, in May, an American Lockheed U-2 spy plane operated by the CIA pilot was shot down in Russia and its pilot captured. The Soviet Union that month had also launched its fourth Sputnik satellite into earth orbit. Dwight D. Eisenhower was then president of the U.S., facing off in those times with Russian leader, Nikita Khrushchev.

In literature, Harper Lee had published her novel To Kill a Mockingbird in July, a book which would later win the Pulitzer Prize for the best American novel of 1960. And as already mentioned, the 1960 presidential election campaign was underway, with U.S. Vice-President Richard M. Nixon (R) running against U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts. At the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in September, a young boxer named Cassius Clay had won the gold medal in light-heavyweight boxing. This was also prime time for Frank Sinatra and his Las Vegas “Rat Pack” – the cool guys of that era – Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. At the box office in mid-October, Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas as the slave-turned-gladiator rebel in ancient Rome, was the No. 1 movie. On the Billboard music charts that fall, “Save The Last Dance for Me” by the Drifters, “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles, and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” by Elvis Presley were among the top hits.

Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, PA, circa 1950s-1960s.
Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, PA, circa 1950s-1960s.
Another shot of Forbes Field, which is located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, with the University of Pittsburgh’s “Cathedral of Learning” tower seen in this photo.
Another shot of Forbes Field, which is located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, with the University of Pittsburgh’s “Cathedral of Learning” tower seen in this photo.
Sample Pittsburgh Pirates “official program” guide for the 1960 World Series games played at Forbes Field. Click for replica.
Sample Pittsburgh Pirates “official program” guide for the 1960 World Series games played at Forbes Field. Click for replica.

The city of Pittsburgh, meanwhile, was remaking itself from its gritty, grimy past. Pittsburgh had risen as a 19th century industrial powerhouse on the avenues of commerce that were the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, transporting coal and iron ore to the steel mills that helped build America. Following World War II, Pittsburgh launched civic revitalization and clean air projects known as the “Renaissance,” aimed at cleaning up the city’s sooty image. But Pittsburgh in 1960 was still very much that broad-shouldered, working-class city of coal, iron and steel. It was the town of Jones and Laughlin Steel, Pittsburgh Plate Glass, Alcoa, U.S. Steel, and Westinghouse. Pittsburgh, in short, was still very much a blue-collar town – capital of Western Pennsylvania, a region brimming full of loyal sports fans.

Then there was the beloved baseball park, Forbes Field. In 1908, city leaders approved plans for a baseball park in the Oakland section of the city. About a years later, Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss opened a stadium at Forbes Field, which was the world’s first three-tiered steel and concrete stadium. The ball park was sited near the hills and trees of Schenley Park, and brought notice for its setting and design. Fittingly, the Prates played in the 1909 World Series there, with Honus Wagner among Pirate stars of that day, doing battle with the Detroit Tigers and Ty Cobb. The Pirates won that Series, besting Detroit 4 games to 3. Forbes Field, in fact, hosted two more World Series in 1925 and 1927, winning the 1925 Series by beating the Washington Senators 4 games to 3, and losing the 1927 Series to the Yankees, as already mentioned in a four game sweep. There were also two All-Star games played at Forbes, in 1944 and 1959.

Forbes Field was known for its ivy-covered outfield wall in left and left center field. It also had a hand-operated scoreboard topped with a large clock. The scoreboard was part of the left field wall. Lights were added later for night games.

In 1947, when the Pirates acquired slugger Hank Greenberg, the left field wall was moved in thirty feet and the bullpens located in the space between the wall and the scoreboard. This area this area then became known as “Greenberg Gardens.” Later, when Ralph Kiner joined the team, the Gardens became known as “Kiner’s Korner.”

Forbes Field also had claim to a share of baseball’s iconic moments, including Babe Ruth’s last game, played as a Boston Brave in 1935 – a game in which he hit his last three career home runs – #’s 712, 713 & 714 — the 3rd of which cleared the right field roof and traveled some distance beyond the park.

Forbes Field was the first home stadium of the Pittsburgh Steelers and was also used for football by the University of Pittsburgh “Pitt” Panthers. The Homstead Grays of the Negro Baseball League also played at Forbes. Boxing matches and political rallies were held there as well. On October 2, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a crowd of 60,000 at Forbes Field during a campaign stop, defending his New Deal programs. Forbes Field was demolished in July 1971, as the Pirates used the newly-built Three Rivers Stadium as their home park until 2001, when the team moved to their present home field, PNC Park. But for the 1960 World Series, the first two games were played at Forbes Field, and the attendance for Game 1 on October 5th, 1960 was 36,676, filling the park.

1960 New York Yankee All Stars, from left: Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Bill “Moose” Skowron.
1960 New York Yankee All Stars, from left: Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Bill “Moose” Skowron.
Pittsburgh Pirates from the 1960 team shown a few years later, from left: Bill Mazeroski, Vernon Law, Roberto Clemente and Elroy Face.
Pittsburgh Pirates from the 1960 team shown a few years later, from left: Bill Mazeroski, Vernon Law, Roberto Clemente and Elroy Face.


The 1960 Series

Yanks vs. Bucs

The 1960 New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates had comparable records. The Yanks had won the American League pennant by eight games with a 97–57 record for a .630 win-loss average. The Pirates won the National League race by seven games with a 95–59 record and a .617 average.

Still, the Yankees featured raw hitting power on a level just below that of 1927’s Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, this time with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris – the “M & M boys” as they would be called in the following year when the two sluggers engaged in a heated race for Babe Ruth’s home run record — which Maris would break hitting 61.

In the 1960 season, however, Maris hit 39 home runs with 112 RBIs and a .283 average. Mantle had 40 home runs that year, 94 RBIs, and a .275 average.

In addition to Maris and Mantle, there was also Yogi Berra (15 HR, 62 RBIs, and.276 avg.) and Bill “Moose” Skowron (26 HR, 91 RBIs, and .309). Catcher Elston Howard, who had not played a full season, could also hit for power. And shortstop Tony Kubek and third baseman Clete Boyer had more than 100 RBIs between them.

The Yankees’ core pitching staff had no 20 game winners among them, but included – Art Ditmar (15-9), Jim Coates (13-3), Whitey Ford (12-9), and Ralph Terry (10-8). Bobby Shantz was a top reliever, with a 5-4 record, 11 saves and a 2.79 ERA.

Pirate shortstop and NL MVP in 1960, Dick Groat, featured on the August 8th 1960 cover of Sports Illustrated.
Pirate shortstop and NL MVP in 1960, Dick Groat, featured on the August 8th 1960 cover of Sports Illustrated.
The Pirates were no slouches, however. They had scored 734 runs during the regular season to lead the National League.

Strong performances that year had come from Roberto Clemente, Dick Stuart and Dick Groat. Clemente compiled a .314 batting average in 1960 with 16 home runs and a team-leading 94 RBIs.

Dick Stuart, the Bucs’ home run leader that year with 23, also had 83 RBIs. Stuart had once hit 66 home runs in a single season in the minor leagues.

Dick Groat, the Bucs’ 29 year-old shortstop that year, had hit .325 with 189 hits. In August 1960, Groat made the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, with the tagline, “Fiery Leader of the Pirates.”

Groat had been a Duke University basketball All-American and had grown up just a few miles from Forbes Field. As a kid, he had always wanted to play for the Pirates. In 1952, he got his wish.

Groat was signed by Branch Rickey, famous Brooklyn Dodger general manager (GM) who had brought Jackie Robinson into Major League baseball to break the “color barrier.” Rickey was then GM with the Pirate organization. After Groat signed with the Pirates, he soon became the team’s regular shortstop. In 1960, he would win the National League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy.

Promotional photo for the 1960 World Series with Mickey Mantle (L) and Roger Maris (R) flanking the Pirates’ Dick Stuart, who as a minor leaguer in 1956, hit 66 home runs.
Promotional photo for the 1960 World Series with Mickey Mantle (L) and Roger Maris (R) flanking the Pirates’ Dick Stuart, who as a minor leaguer in 1956, hit 66 home runs.
Among other important Pirates was outfielder Bob Skinner who had 15 home runs in 1960 along with 86 RBIs and a .273 average.

Pirate pitching in 1960 finished third in National League Earned Run Average (ERA). The team’s starters that year, led by Cy Young award winner Vernon Law (20-9), also included Bob Friend (18-12), Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell (13-5) [and later member of Congress], and Harvey Haddix (11-10).

“Little guy” Elroy Face (5′-9″) was one of the best reliever/closers then in baseball. Known for his “fork ball,” Face had a 10-8 record in 1960 with 24 saves.

Still, the Yankees were big favorites. On October 4th, a story in the New York Times used the headline: “Yanks 7-5 Choice To Capture Title; Odds Even on Opening Game — Pirates Calmly Study Reports on Bombers.” A second story from the Times that same day focused on Yankee power: “Pirates No Match in the Number of Distance Hitters; Bombers’ Attack Is Strong From Both Sides of Plate,” said the headline. But Pirates had a working-class grit about them, befitting their city, and had the support of those rooting for the underdog.

Pittsburgh ace, Vernon Law, pitched Game 1 of the 1960 World Series, which the Pirates won, 6-to-4.
Pittsburgh ace, Vernon Law, pitched Game 1 of the 1960 World Series, which the Pirates won, 6-to-4.
Pirate victory in Game 1 of the 1960 World Series is front-page news in Pittsburgh on October 6, 1960.
Pirate victory in Game 1 of the 1960 World Series is front-page news in Pittsburgh on October 6, 1960.


Game 1

Pirates, 6-4

In Game 1 of the Series, played at Forbes Field, the Governor of Pennsylvania, David Lawrence, threw out the ceremonial opening pitch, and Billy Eckstine, Pittsburgh native, singer, and a bandleader of the swing era, sang the National Anthem. Vernon Law was the starting pitcher for the Pirates in Game 1, and the Yankees threw Art Ditmar.

In the opening half of the inning, Law retired the first two Yankee batters. Roger Maris, however, unloaded on Law for a home run, making Pirate fans a bit nervous. But the Pirates quickly came back, exhibiting the scrappy style of play that had become their trademark all year, putting together a walk, a double, two singles, and two stolen bases to produce three runs. Hitting by Dick Groat and Roberto Clemente had figured in the scoring, giving the Bucs the lead, 3-to-1.

In the fourth inning, New York cut the lead to 3-2 after Maris singled and then was moved around the bases by a Mantle walk, a fly ball by Yogi Berra, and then scored on a single by Bill Skowron. The Pirates came back again adding two more runs in 4th inning on a Bill Mazeroski two-run homer off Yankee reliever Jim Coates, making the count 5-to-2. The Bucs added another run in the 6th, making it 6-to-2.

In the top of the eighth inning, however, two Yankee singles with no outs were enough to bring in Elroy Face to relieve Vernon Law. Face managed to strike out Mantle and Skowron, with Berra making a fly out. The Yankees’ Elston Howard, however, ripped Face for a two-run homer in the ninth, cutting the score to 6-to-4, which proved to be enough, as the Pirate infield turned a double play to end the game. Still the Yankees collected 13 hits in the game, while the Pirates had eight. The next day, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured the home team’s Game 1 victory on the front page, also mentioning the two-run home run by Mazeroski as a key ingredient in the victory.


Oct 1960: Mickey Mantle, surrounded by press, celebrates with an Iron City beer in locker room after hitting two home runs in Game 2 of the 1960 World Series. Art Rickerby /Time-Life
Oct 1960: Mickey Mantle, surrounded by press, celebrates with an Iron City beer in locker room after hitting two home runs in Game 2 of the 1960 World Series. Art Rickerby /Time-Life
Game 2

Yankees, 16-3

Yankee power was on full display in a 16-3 trouncing of the Pirates in Game 2 of the 1960 World Series. Mickey Mantle hit two home runs in the game – a two-run blast in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 7th. Bob Turley was the starting pitcher for the Yankees in that game and Bob Friend for the Pirates.

The Pirates and Friend were still in the ball game through five innings when the score was 5-to-1 Yanks. But the wheels came off in the 6th inning, as the Yankees sent 12 men to the plate scoring 7 runs on seven hits, with one Pirate error and a passed ball adding the woes. After Friend was knocked out, he was followed by five Pirate relievers trying to hold the Yankees down.

For the Yankees, in addition to Mantle’s two home runs, Tony Kubek had three hits, while McDougald, Skowron and Howard each had two, a few of which went for extra bases. Although the Pirates only managed to score three runs, they had 13 hits as well, with Clemente, Nelson, Cimoli, and Burgess each having two apiece.

With the Series tied at one game each, the scene then shifted to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York.


Oct 8th, 1960, Game 3, Yankee Stadium: Bobby Richardson being greeted at home plate by Gil McDougald (12), Elston Howard (32) and Bill Skowron (14) for his first inning Grand Slam home run. Tony Kubek (10) was on deck.
Oct 8th, 1960, Game 3, Yankee Stadium: Bobby Richardson being greeted at home plate by Gil McDougald (12), Elston Howard (32) and Bill Skowron (14) for his first inning Grand Slam home run. Tony Kubek (10) was on deck.
Game 3

Yankees, 10-0

On Saturday, October 8th. at about 2:40 pm in the afternoon, some 70,000 fans filled Yankee stadium – nearly twice what the turnout had been for Game 1 at Forbes Field. Yankee pitcher, Whitey Ford, who had been 12-9 that season, was the starting pitcher for the Yanks, while Vinegar Bend Mizell got the nod for the Pirates.

However, another lopsided Yankee affair soon followed, as both Mizell and Pirates reliever, Green were knocked out in the first inning. The Yankees tallied 6 runs on 7 hits in that inning alone, featuring a grand slam home run by Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson.

Four more Yankee runs were added in the 4th inning with Mantle contributing a two-run home run and Richardson a two-run single, giving him total of 6 RBIs for Game 3. Mantle went 4-for-5 that game. Whitey Ford pitched the entire nine innings for the Yanks, giving up only four Pirate hits – to Clemente, Stuart, Mazeroski and Virdon. Final score, Yankees 10, Pirates 0. The Yankees were feeling pretty superior by this point.

Oct 8th: A wire service photo showing the route of Bobby Richardson’s Grand Slam home run in the 1st inning of Game 3 of the 1960 World Series at Yankee Stadium, with identifying labels provided for Yankee and Pirate players.
Oct 8th: A wire service photo showing the route of Bobby Richardson’s Grand Slam home run in the 1st inning of Game 3 of the 1960 World Series at Yankee Stadium, with identifying labels provided for Yankee and Pirate players.


The Oct 10th, 1960 edition of Sports Illustrated featured Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Vernon Law on its cover.
The Oct 10th, 1960 edition of Sports Illustrated featured Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Vernon Law on its cover.
Game 4

Pirates, 3-2

On Sunday, October 9th at Yankee Stadium, at about 2:30pm in the afternoon with some 67,000 fans attending, Game 4 of the 1960 World Series began. Pirate pitcher Vernon Law started his second game for the Pirates, while the Yankees went with Ralph Terry.

Law held the Yankees to two runs – one, a Bill Skowron home run in the 4th, and a second on an infield double-play that scored Elston Howard in the bottom of the 7th.

The Pirates, however, didn’t get a hit until the fifth inning, when Gino Cimoli singled and Smoky Burgess got on with a ground ball. Two outs followed, but thanks to Law, the runners moved along when he doubled to left, scoring Cimoli. Law, in fact, had two hits that game. Virdon then singled, which sent Burgess and Law in to score, making the count 3-to-1 Pirates.

After the Yanks collared a few hits in the seventh scoring one run and leaving runners on base with one out, Elroy Face was called in to relieve Vernon Law. The Yankees’s Bob Cerv then hit a long drive off of Face to right center field that looked like certain trouble until sprinting centerfielder Bill Virdon made a spectacular one-hand catch, falling down at the wall as he did. Face retired the next batter for the final out in the 7th, and also the next three Yankees in order in the 8th inning. In the ninth, Bill Skowron gave the Pirate a scare when he hit a ball that had home run distance, but went foul. Don Hoak then made a good defensive play on Skowron’s next hard hit ground ball to third for one out, while Face retired the next two Yankees in order to preserve the Pirate win, 3-to-2. The Series was now tied at two wins each.


Harvey Haddix was the winning pitcher in Game 5 of the 1960 World Series.
Harvey Haddix was the winning pitcher in Game 5 of the 1960 World Series.
Game 5

Pirates, 5-2

On Monday, October 10, 1960, also at Yankee Stadium, the Pirates managed another victory, 5-to-2, as Pirate pitcher Harvey Haddix shut down the Yankees for the most part. The Pirates had a three-run second inning capitalizing in part on a Yankee error on the base paths.

Here’s how that play went down: the Pirate’s Dick Stuart had singled, but was forced out on a Clemente grounder. Smoky Burgess then doubled sending Clemente to third. Don Hoak hit a grounder to short, which Yankee shortstop Tony Kubek fielded and threw to McDouglad at third, attempting to get Burgess out as he tried to reach third. Clemente, meanwhile, had already scored. Kubek’s throw to third for Burgess got away from McDouglad and all hands were safe. Mazeroski, next up, doubled, sending in two more runs.

Harvey Haddix generally pitched a good game for the Bucs, recording six strikeouts and giving up just two runs — one in the second and a home run to Roger Maris in the 3rd. He kept Yanks tied up through 6 and one-third innings and left with a 4-2 Pirate lead. The Pirates added a run in the top of the 9th, giving them a 5-to-2 lead. Elroy Face, who had already relieved Haddix, then closed out the game. The Pirates now had a 3-2 lead in the Series and were heading home for Game 6, and if needed, Game 7.


Yankee Whitey Ford in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1960 World Series at Forbes Field, with scoreboard telling the tale. Yanks 12, Pirates 0.  Photo, N. Leifer
Yankee Whitey Ford in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1960 World Series at Forbes Field, with scoreboard telling the tale. Yanks 12, Pirates 0. Photo, N. Leifer
Game 6

Yankees, 12-0

Back at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh for Game 6, Whitey Ford made his second Series start for the Yankees, and he didn’t disappoint. Ford shut out the Pirates, going the distance over nine innings allowing 7 hits but no runs.

Whitey’s teammates, meanwhile, pounded out 17 hits and 12 runs to take Game 6 by a count of 12-0. Although no Yankee homers figured in the final math, Berra, Mantle, Maris, and Skowron all collected hits. Bobby Richardson enjoyed another big game, with a pair of triples and three RBIs.

The Series was now tied 3-to-3, heading into the decisive Game 7.


Game 7

Pirates, 10-9

In the winner-take-all showdown game of the 1960 World Series, some 36,683 fans were on hand at Forbes Field. Yankees’ manager Casey Stengel went with Bob Turley as his team’s starting pitcher. Turley was the winning pitcher in Game 2. The Pirates employed their ace, Vernon Law, the winning pitcher in Games 1 and 4.

The Pirates struck first, knocking out Turley in the first inning as Rocky Nelson homered with Skinner on base, giving the Pirates an early 2–0 lead. The Pirates then added two more runs in the next inning, extending their lead to 4-0. Things were looking promising in Steel Town. Yankee power, meanwhile, had been shut down until the 5th inning when Bill Skowron hit a lead-off home run. But it was still 4-to-1, Pirates. Bobby Shantz began pitching for the Yankees in the third inning, and the Bucs were held scoreless through the seventh, during which time the Yankees had pulled ahead.

In the 6th inning the Yankees scored four runs to take the lead at 5-to-4. Bobby Richardson led off the inning with a single, followed by a walk to Tony Kubek. Roger Maris popped out but Mantle hit a single driving in one run. With Kubek and Mantle on base, Yogi Berra then ripped a three-run homer, a key blow, giving the Yanks a 5-4 edge.

Yogi Berra hitting a 3-run home run for the NY Yankees against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field in the 6th inning of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, giving the Yanks a 5-4 lead. Photo: N. Leifer / Sports Illustrated.
Yogi Berra hitting a 3-run home run for the NY Yankees against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field in the 6th inning of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, giving the Yanks a 5-4 lead. Photo: N. Leifer / Sports Illustrated.

The 7th inning of Game 7 was scoreless for both sides. However, in that inning, the Pirates had a chance for some runs. Smoky Burgess led off with a base hit, and Murtaugh sent in a faster pinch runner for Burgess who would then be replaced in the lineup by back-up catcher Hal Smith. Burgess was a good hitter, so it was a tough decision for Murtaugh to take him out. But the gamble fizzled as the next two batters came up empty: Don Hoak lined out and Mazeroski hit into a double play. It was still 5-to-4 Yanks. Then came the 8th inning with Yankee power again coming to plate – Maris, Mantle and Berra. However, this time Maris and Mantle both made infield outs while Berra walked. But then other Yankees stepped up… – two singles and a double followed, adding two more runs, putting the Yanks still further ahead, 7-to-4.

By the bottom of the eighth inning, things were not looking good in Pirate town. Down by three big runs, there were only six outs remaining. But the Pirate hitters went to work. They opened the inning with a single by Gino Cimoli, who had pinch-hit for Face. Virdon was next, and he hit a sharp ground ball to short for what appeared to a double-play ball. Instead, the ball took a bad hop on the rough infield and hit Yankee shortstop Tony Kubek in the throat, sending Kubek to the turf and stopping the game. It was later reported that Kubek had blood in his throat and having trouble breathing as his windpipe swelled . A conclave of Yankees, and manager Casey Stengel, came on the field to Kubek’s aide, and he was taken out of the game.

8th inning, Game 7, 1960 World Series, manager Casey Stengel (37), coming to see injured Yankee shortstop, Tony Kubek, hit in the Adams Apple of his throat after a ground ball took a bad hop, swelling his wind pipe.
8th inning, Game 7, 1960 World Series, manager Casey Stengel (37), coming to see injured Yankee shortstop, Tony Kubek, hit in the Adams Apple of his throat after a ground ball took a bad hop, swelling his wind pipe.

As play resumed, the Pirate batter, Bob Skinner, was called upon to bunt, which he did, moving the runners to second and third. Nelson came up next, and flied out to shallow right field, with no runners moving. Clemente came to the plate next, fighting off a series of pitches with foul balls, and breaking his bat at one point. He then hit a ground ball chopper that went wide of first base, which Skowron fielded. Yankee pitcher, Coates, was supposed to cover first base, but had initially gone for the ball too, and was unable to recover quickly enough to beat Clemente to the bag, who was safe at first. In the process, Pirate base runner Bill Virdon scored, cutting the Yankee lead to 7-6.


Roberto Clemente, with Dick Groat behind him, gives Hal Smith a celebratory lift for hitting a 3-run home run giving the Pirates a 9-to-7 lead over the NY Yankees in the bottom of 8th inning, Game 7, 1960 World Series. Click for autographed photo.
Roberto Clemente, with Dick Groat behind him, gives Hal Smith a celebratory lift for hitting a 3-run home run giving the Pirates a 9-to-7 lead over the NY Yankees in the bottom of 8th inning, Game 7, 1960 World Series. Click for autographed photo.
Hal Smith’s Homer

Next up was back-up Pirate catcher, Hal Smith, who had been sharing catching duty during the season with starter Smoky Burgess, and had come into the game after Burgess was lifted for a pinch runner earlier. Yankee pitcher Jim Coates took Smith to a 2-and 2 count, and then threw a him a low fastball. Smith connected with the pitch solidly, sending it soaring to left field, over the head of left fielder Yogi Berra and over the wall – a three-run homer scoring himself, Groat and Clemente.

TV announcer Mel Allen was astonished, saying that Smith’s 2-strikes- 2-outs home run “will be one of the most dramatic base hits in the history of the World Series” – a hit that “will long be remembered.” Smith’s homer proved to be a very big deal – at least for the moment – but would be soon be overshadowed and historically buried by what was yet to come. Yet, for the moment, the Pirates now led by a score of 9-to-7 thanks to Smith’s heroics.

Out on the pitching mound, meanwhile, the Yanks replaced Coates with Ralph Terry, who then recorded the third out in the Pirates big 8th inning by getting Don Hoak to fly out to left. But the damage had been done. Now, heading into the top of the 9th inning, it was the Yankees under the gun with only three outs remaining and the Pirates up by two runs, 9-to-7.

Game 7: Mickey Mantle’s single scored Richardson and moved McDougald to third, who later scored, tying the game, 9-to-9.
Game 7: Mickey Mantle’s single scored Richardson and moved McDougald to third, who later scored, tying the game, 9-to-9.
Pirate manager, Danny Murtaugh decided to bring in pitcher Bob Friend, normally a starting pitcher. But in this case, he needed him as a reliever, in hopes of protecting the Pirate’s 9-7 lead and securing the World Series title. Friend was an eighteen game winner for the Pirates that year, who had also started Game 2 and Game 6. But after Yankee hitters Bobby Richardson and pinch-hitter Dale Long both singled off Friend, Murtaugh again turned to his bull pen, this time bringing in Harvey Haddix. Up next was power hitter Roger Maris with two men on base – as McDougald entered the game as a pinch runner for Long. One good home run swing by Maris could put the Yankees back on top. But Haddix managed to have Maris foul out. More Yankee power was next. Mickey Mantle. Mantle hit a hard single to right that scored Richardson and moved McDougald to third. It was now 9-to-8.

With two outs, Yogi Berra was next up, and hit a short grounder to first snared by Pirate first baseman Rocky Nelson, who stepped on the bag for the second out. Mickey Mantle, who was on first base, had started for second on Berra’s grounder, but saw he had no chance to make it there, and quickly reversed course back to first base, adroitly avoiding a tag by Nelson. Had Mantle been caught, it would have been the third out. Meanwhile, McDougald, who had been on third base, had scored, tying the game, 9-to-9. The next batter, Bill Skowron, grounded to short, which forced Mantle out at second base to end the inning.

October 13th, 1960: Students at the University of Pittsburgh’s  Cathedral of Learning had a special perspective on  Forbes Field below as they cheered the Pirates during Game 7 of the World Series. Photo, George Silk/Life. Click for related photo.
October 13th, 1960: Students at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning had a special perspective on Forbes Field below as they cheered the Pirates during Game 7 of the World Series. Photo, George Silk/Life. Click for related photo.

Now it was the bottom of the ninth inning, with home team Pittsburgh coming to bat. One run, scored at any time that inning, was all the Pirates needed to win the World Series. Yankee pitcher, Ralph Terry, who had made the final Pirate out in the eighth inning, returned to the mound for the bottom of the ninth. His job was to hold the line, keep the Pirates off the bases, and maintain the 9-to-9 tie score so the Yanks could hit again in the top of the 10th inning. The first man he faced was Pirate second baseman, Bill Mazeroski. Maz was having a pretty decent Series (in fact, he would go 8-for-25 over the seven games and bat .320 for the Series ), and although he had hit one home run earlier in the Series, in Game 1, he was still not regarded as a home run threat. During the 1960 season Maz had hit 11 home runs.

October 13th, 1960: Pittsburgh Pirate, Bill Mazeroski, just after hitting a Ralph Terry pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning at Forbes Field in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series that would sail over the left field wall to win the Series.
October 13th, 1960: Pittsburgh Pirate, Bill Mazeroski, just after hitting a Ralph Terry pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning at Forbes Field in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series that would sail over the left field wall to win the Series.

Terry’s first pitch to Mazeroski was a fast ball down the middle but high, for a ball. Next came a pitch lower in the hitting zone which Mazeroski unloaded on with a good swing. The ball popped off the bat and soared high into the afternoon sky heading toward and then over the left field wall. Bill Mazeroski had just made his Pittsburgh Pirates the 1960 champions of baseball. As NBC’s TV announcer, Mel Allen, called Mazeroski’s historic hit that afternoon:

Yankee Yogi Berra watched two late-inning Game 7 Pirate home runs go over the Forbes Field left field wall: one to tie the game by Hal Smith and one to win it by Bill Mazeroski.
Yankee Yogi Berra watched two late-inning Game 7 Pirate home runs go over the Forbes Field left field wall: one to tie the game by Hal Smith and one to win it by Bill Mazeroski.

…There’s a drive into deep left field, look out now… that ball is going, going, gone! And the World Series is over! Mazeroski… hits it over the left field fence, and the Pirates win it 10–9 and win the World Series!

Chuck Thompson, a local radio announcer, also captured some of the action in his call:

,,,[H]ere’s a swing and a high fly ball going deep to left, this may do it!… Back to the wall goes Berra, it is…over the fence, home run, the Pirates win!… (long pause for crowd noise)… Ladies and gentlemen, Mazeroski has hit a one-nothing pitch over the left field fence at Forbes Field to win the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates…

Forbes Field was a ballpark with fairly deep outfield fences, and where Mazeroski hit the ball to left-center field, it went over the 18-foot ivy-covered brick wall near the 406 marker, with estimates that it likely traveled 430 feet or so – a very respectable World Series-winning clout.

As the Pirates bench and Forbes Field erupted, Mazeroski, running hard to first base, came around the bag and realized his hit had left the yard and what he had just done. By the time he reached second base, fans began running onto the field, some coming toward him, trying to greet him and/or run the bases with him. In order to make the Pirate victory official, it was imperative that Mazeroski touch each bag and reach home plate for that final 10th run to be tallied.

Bill Mazeroski, on his home run trot, begins celebrating in earnest between 2nd and 3rd base on his way home.
Bill Mazeroski, on his home run trot, begins celebrating in earnest between 2nd and 3rd base on his way home.
At 3rd base, well-wishing fans begin to greet Maz as Pirate third base coach, Frank Oceak, joins the party.
At 3rd base, well-wishing fans begin to greet Maz as Pirate third base coach, Frank Oceak, joins the party.
Bill Mazeroski, on final leg of home run trot, is pursued by fans as he makes his way to home plate where his teammates await. Has become iconic photo; click for autographed 8x10 copy.
Bill Mazeroski, on final leg of home run trot, is pursued by fans as he makes his way to home plate where his teammates await. Has become iconic photo; click for autographed 8x10 copy.

Continuing his run around the bases midway between second and third, Mazeroski began waving with one arm and holding his batting helmet in the air with the other. Approaching third base, a couple of kids and a few other fans came alongside him, trying to offer their congratulatory pat-on-the-back or run along with him.

As he made the turn at third base there were a few more fans and some security guards and police were coming onto the field to help control the crowd and protect the players. In the stadium, the crowd was screaming wildly, with fans hugging one another, some crying with joy. As Mazeroski came down the third base line toward home plate, a mob of his teammates and some fans awaited him. There as well was home plate umpire Bill Jakowski, positioned between a couple of the waiting Pirates to make sure Mazeroski touched the plate. By then the field began to fill up with fans, along with state and local police, as the ballplayers tried to make their way to the clubhouse.

The Yankees. After Mazeroski’s homer, the Yankees stood around their dugout in stunned disbelief. The Pirates had been outscored, outhit, and outplayed by the Yankees, but had managed to emerge with the victory.

The Yankees, in fact, were the winners of the Series, statistically. They had out-scored the Pirates 55–27, out-hit them 91–60 with a better batting average, .338 to .256; out-homered them 10-to-4; and out-pitched them, led by Whitey Ford’s two complete-game shutouts and a team composite ERA of 3.54- to-7.11. Despite their statistically superior performance, the Yanks still lost.

Years later, Mickey Mantle was quoted as saying that losing the 1960 World Series was the biggest disappointment of his career, the only loss, amateur or professional, over which he cried actual tears.

Photographers. The Pittsburgh Post- Gazette had an enterprising photographer in 1960 named Jim Klingensmith who managed to capture Mazeroski’s home run and also the sequence of shots of Mazeroski bounding around the bases after he realized what he had done.

Sometime before Game 7, Klingensmith had scouted out the best spot in Forbes Field for taking what he hoped would be some good shots of the final World Series game that year.

On game day, with help from his son and a friend, he used a ladder and climbed atop the grandstand rooftop behind home plate. Once there, he kept the ladder with him to make sure he could get back down, and also to prevent competitors from encroaching on his territory.

From this perch, Klingensmith had a great perspective on the park that enabled him to make some priceless shots, a few of which now reside in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

Also at the ball park that day was photographer Marvin E. Newman, who captured the Mazeroski moment in a classic shot of the field, scoreboard, and Longines clock that appears at the top of this story. Life magazine photographer George Silk, meanwhile, was on the roof of the nearby Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh where he recorded his classic photo shown earlier of Pitt students cheering the Pirates on.


Bill Mazeroski
Pittsburgh Hero

Bill Mazeroski, circa 1960s.
Bill Mazeroski, circa 1960s.
A coal miner’s son who grew up in the rural Ohio-West Virginia border town of Witch Hazel, Ohio, Bill Mazeroski faced tough conditions as a young boy in the 1940s, living in a small home without electricity or indoor plumbing. His father encouraged him toward sports, and young Bill excelled in high school baseball and basketball. In fact, he was offered basketball scholarships to several colleges.

But Bill opted instead for minor league baseball, signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates and rising in their farm system to the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. Midway through the 1956 season with the Stars and batting .306, the Pirates brought Bill Mazeroski up to the majors. He was 19 years old.

In the 1960 World Series, as a 23 year-old second baseman, Bill Mazeroski was something of the unexpected and improbable hero. A second baseman and a .250 average as a hitter, Mazeroski was not your everyday, big-guy power hitter – not the Babe Ruth type expected to hit the ball out of the park. That year, in fact, Bill Mazeroski had 11 home runs – not bad for a second baseman, yet still not a total that would put fear into opposing pitchers.

Bill Mazeroski on his 74th birthday at September 2010 dedication of his statue at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA.
Bill Mazeroski on his 74th birthday at September 2010 dedication of his statue at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA.
Bill Mazeroski was a great infielder, with a number of Gold Glove awards to his credit, and a key player for Pittsburgh. But he wasn’t the “go to” guy expected to deliver clutch home runs – especially in a Game 7, bottom-of-the-9th situation. So when he did knock the ball out of the park in one of the most clutch moments in baseball – and against one of game’s most powerful opponents – he became, with one swing of the bat, a baseball hero, a giant slayer, and champion of the underdog.

When his 17-year career ended in 1972, Bill Mazeroski held the major league records for most double plays in a season and most double plays in a career. His Pirate numeral, No. 9, was retired in 1987. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. A street outside PNC Park in Pittsburgh is named Mazeroski Way, and a statue commemorating his famous 1960 World Series home run, was installed outside the Park in early September 2010. Mazeroski, then 74, spoke at the unveiling. His statue joined three others arrayed around the outside of the Pittsburgh ball park – one each for Pirate greats Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell.


The Celebration

October 13, 1960: Downtown Pittsburgh, PA erupted in a prolonged celebration after Pirates won the World Series.
October 13, 1960: Downtown Pittsburgh, PA erupted in a prolonged celebration after Pirates won the World Series.
Back at Forbes Field on the afternoon of October 13, 1960, pandemonium ensued with the Mazeroski homer, and a giant celebration began throughout the city and beyond. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette would report on the front page the following day: “At 3:36:30 yesterday, all hell broke loose…” This particular front-page story – one of several devoted to the victory – was headlined “Our Town Goes Wild Over Pirate Victory,” explaining in an auxiliary line above the story: “Crowds Yell, Firecrackers Boom, Air Raid Sirens Shriek, Confetti Rains, Church Bells Ring.” The Series-winning Mazeroski homer had touched off one of the city’s wildest celebrations in its history. “The bedlam – and there is no other way to describe the scene downtown after the game–,” explained the Post-Gazette, “continued on and on and on into the night.”

Life magazine, reporting on the celebration in a later edition, also noted the action following the victory: “… For the next 12 hours, Pittsburgh seethed in celebration for the team that should have lost but wouldn’t. The people felt and uncontrollable urge to let go – and loud. Automobile horns began a non-stop honking and attics were ransacked for whistles, tubas, and Halloween noisemakers. The hordes converged on downtown Pittsburgh where paper hurled from office windows had bogged down trolley cars. Snake dancers bearing sings torn from Forbes Field and beer bottled added to the traffic snarl….” By 9.pm. that evening, bridges and tunnels leading into the city had been closed, and downtown hotels were barring those without a room key from entering their lobbies.

October 14th, 1960: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a “souvenir edition” with its comprehensive coverage of the Pittsburgh Pirate victory in the 1960 World Series. Click for headlines collection.
October 14th, 1960: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a “souvenir edition” with its comprehensive coverage of the Pittsburgh Pirate victory in the 1960 World Series. Click for headlines collection.
Amidst the dominating “Bucs Are The Champs” newspaper headlines and stories that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the next day, the editors managed to squeeze in some other news of the day.

Also in the newspaper that day, for example, was one front-page story on the Kennedy-Nixon presidential TV debate from the previous night, as well as another on the bellicose departing words of visiting Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev still upset over the U-2 spying incident, calling Eisenhower a liar and saying, “If you want war, you’ll get war.”

Still, in Pittsburgh at least, the main topic of the day on the 14th of October 1960 was that the Pittsburgh Pirates were the world champions of baseball. And as another Post-Gazette header and part “dig line” put it – meant no doubt to press salt into the wounds of those who thought the Pirates had no chance against the high-and-mighty Yankees – “We Had ‘Em All The Way.”

Bill Mazeroski had his own headline that day, of course. But also, further down in the sub-headline reporting, there was also mention of the Pirate’s Hal Smith as a key player in the team’s come-from-behind rally: “Five Run Rally in Eighth Inning Breaks Yank Lead as Smith Brings in 3 Runs With 4-Bagger.” The front-page photos featured Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh celebrating with hero Mazeroski and another with Pirates owner John W. Galbreath and general manager Joe L. Brown in a happy embrace.

Oct 1960: Pennsylvania Governor and former Pittsburgh mayor David Lawrence reads the good news. Click for related book.
Oct 1960: Pennsylvania Governor and former Pittsburgh mayor David Lawrence reads the good news. Click for related book.
Other photos of happy fans basking in the moment of Pirate glory included Pennsylvania Governor, Democrat David L. Lawrence smiling and holding one of the Post-Gazette’s big headline editions proclaiming the Pirate championship.

Lawrence, who served as the 37th Governor of Pennsylvania from 1959 to 1963, was also mayor of Pittsburgh from 1946 through 1959. Lawrence was born into a working-class Irish-Catholic family in the Golden Triangle neighborhood of Pittsburgh and worked his way up the ladder in Pennsylvania politics. As of this writing, he is the only mayor of Pittsburgh to be elected Governor of Pennsylvania. He was a life-long Pirate fan and holder of a 1960 season ticket.


Bill Mazeroski at his 2nd base position in a later 1970 photo with the Forbes Field outfield wall behind him.
Bill Mazeroski at his 2nd base position in a later 1970 photo with the Forbes Field outfield wall behind him.
Series of Distinction

The 1960 World Series, meanwhile, left behind a few distinctions and records that still stand today. First, the Mazeroski home run is one of a kind – so far. As of this writing, it is the only walk-off, World Series winning, Game 7 home run in baseball history. Another World Series winning home run occurred in the 1993 World Series when Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays hit one to end the Series, beating the Philadelphia Phillies. But that one came in a Game 6. In terms of championship home runs generally, there is only one other home run in 20th century baseball history that might be considered in a comparable dramatic vein to Mazeroski’s – that being the famous Bobby Thompson home run of October 3rd, 1951. Thomson’s homer came in the decisive Game 3 of a three-game playoff series that year to decide the National League pennant winner. The Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants finished in a tie that year, and played at the Polo Grounds in New York for their decisive Game 3. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with two out and two Giant runners on base and Brooklyn leading 4-to-2, the Giants’ Bobby Thomson hit a 3-run home run to left field that won the game and the pennant for the Giants, 5-to-4. And a wild hysteria at the Polo Grounds then followed.

Another anomaly of the 1960 World Series is that the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award went to a player from the losing team — second baseman Bobby Richardson of the New York Yankees. Richardson had a good series — 11 hits for 30 at bats, hitting at .367, with 2 doubles, 2 triples, a grand slam home run, 8 runs scored, and 12 RBIs. Still, it’s the only time that a World Series MVP award has gone to a player on the losing team. And finally, in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series – that wild game with 19 total runs, 23 hits, four lead changes and five home runs – there were no strikeouts; not one, also a record for World Series play that still stands. Some fans and sportswriters mark Game 7 as one of the greatest World Series games ever.

Mickey Mantle – #7, “safe” at first  – was said to have made a nifty move to avoid the tag of Rocky Nelson on a key 9th inning play when Yogi Berra, #8, grounded out.
Mickey Mantle – #7, “safe” at first – was said to have made a nifty move to avoid the tag of Rocky Nelson on a key 9th inning play when Yogi Berra, #8, grounded out.

What Ifs? The lore of the 1960 World Series lives on, in any case. As with all of baseball, when great games and great plays are recalled, there are always varied opinions, second guesses, and “what ifs.” And so it is with the 1960 World Series: “What if Whitey Ford had been the Yankee starter in Game 1 and had a chance for three wins in the Series?” Or – “What if Mantle had been tagged out by Nelson at first base in the top of the 9th when there were two outs with the Pirates ahead, 9-8?” Or – “What if that ground ball to Tony Kubek hadn’t taken a bad hop, with him making a double play instead of being injured and leaving two Pirates on base with no outs?” Some of those who played the game remember it too, and also have their opinions. “I still think we outplayed them,” said the Yankees’ Whitey Ford in a 2008 New York Times article on the 1960 Series. “We just felt we were a better team. And then to get beat by a second baseman who didn’t hit many home runs? I still can’t believe it.” Yet, in the World Series arithmetic that matters, the Pittsburgh Pirates won 4 games and the New York Yankees won 3 games. Casey Stengel, meanwhile, 70 years old that fall, was relieved of his command by Yankee management. Though in baseball history, Stengel remains one of the all-time best managers in terms of win-loss record.

Memory & Place. The 1960 surprise World Series win by the Pittsburgh Pirates has become more than merely one of baseball’s most famed moments. It is iconic, to be sure. But it is also of another time and place, and of a more innocent era. And for Pittsburgh fans who grew up in that time, and even those who watched the game on television in October of 1960, there is still a nostalgia and an attachment associated with that Series. For those who were alive at the moment, or even those schooled in the moment at countless American dinner tables, something about the photos of Maz running the bases – or even the stored memory of that image – just automatically brings up a feeling for that other time. “Somehow, it just did something to the city,” Mazeroski has said in recent years, “and they just can’t forget it.” And for natives of Pittsburgh – even if they’ve left town over the years for career or family reasons – there is also a special “sense of place” wrapped up in the memory – that of Forbes Field; a place that is partially there and not there, but still lingers in memory for tens of thousands still alive who had gone there as fans. And although Forbes Field was demolished in the 1970s, a portion of its left field wall has been preserved in the city — where, thanks to a Pittsburgh group named “The Game 7 Gang,” an annual gathering of fans and original radio broadcast of Game 7 occurs every October 13th. And also, by fluke it turns out, a film of Game 7 survives as well.

In 2010, Major League Baseball released the “Crosby Tapes” of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series as a DVD. Click for DVD.
In 2010, Major League Baseball released the “Crosby Tapes” of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series as a DVD. Click for DVD.


Crosby Treasure

In 1960, neither the major TV networks nor local TV stations generally preserved telecasts of sporting events. In most cases, these telecasts were taped over and used for other shows and broadcasts. As a result, no TV film of the first six games of the 1960 World Series is known to exist. However, one happy exception is a remaining black-and-white “kinescope” of the entire telecast of Game 7 (kinescopes were tapes that were filmed from a video monitor, a common practice in the 1950s). The Game 7 kinescope was discovered nearly fifty years after the fact, in December 2009, quite by accident. The film was found in a wine cellar in the Hillsborough, California home of famous singer and Pittsburgh Pirate part owner, Bing Crosby.

Crosby became a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946 and remained an owner until his death in 1977. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the team, and also figured in the recruitment of one the team’s 1960 stars – pitcher Vernon Law. In 1948, Crosby made a telephone call to Law’s mother saying “I’d like you know, Mrs. Law, that we’d like to have your son, Vernon, pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates.” And that call apparently made the difference, as Vernon, who had been more of a football prospect in the Boise area of Idaho as a high school athlete, signed with Pirates. “I guess you could say that Crosby’s telephone call was the final straw in our family decision that I’d sign with the Pirates,” he later explained to a reporter. “It sure thrilled my mother.”

1948: Bing Crosby at right with Pittsburgh Pirate manager Billy Meyer.
1948: Bing Crosby at right with Pittsburgh Pirate manager Billy Meyer.
But when it came to the 1960 World Series, Crosby was reportedly superstitious about watching the games live, fearing he would jinx the Pirates’ chances. By the time of Game 7, he was in Paris where he listened to the game with his wife Kathryn and two friends on a shortwave radio. But he had made plans for watching Game 7 at a later date – but only if the Pirates won. He had arranged that the NBC telecast of the game be recorded on kinescope. Upon his return from Paris, Crosby watched the game. The film was then placed in his wine cellar and film vault where it remained for the next 49 years. In December 2009, while an archivist was looking for footage of old Crosby television specials for DVD conversion, he found some dusty film canisters marked “1960 World Series.” First he found two reels, and later three more, and after viewing them, realized what he had found. The five-reel set is the only known complete copy of the historic game. For fans and baseball historians, it was an important find.

The Crosby estate negotiated a deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) for the use of the film for broadcast and conversion to DVDs. In November 2010, an exclusive screening of the film was held in Pittsburgh with some of the game’s participants in attendance. An audience of some 1,300 came out for premiere at the Byham Theater in downtown Pittsburgh – including eight members of the Pirates’ championship team and Bobby Richardson of the Yankees. (Mazeroski , however, was ill at the time).


Hal Smith being greeted by Dick Groat and Roberto Clemente for his 3-run home run, Game 7, 1960 World Series.
Hal Smith being greeted by Dick Groat and Roberto Clemente for his 3-run home run, Game 7, 1960 World Series.
Hal Smith’s Moment

One poignant moment during the MLB screening of the Game 7 film occurred when the film showed Hal Smith’s key 8th inning, 3-run home run, as Smith, then 79, was in attendance. Smith – whose World Series homer gave the Bucs a 9-to-7 lead at the time but has always been overshadowed by the more dramatic Mazeroski homer – was given a standing ovation at the screening, not only from the fans in attendance, but from his fellow teammates as well.

Some baseball statisticians, meanwhile, have crunched the numbers on famous World Series home runs, and they conclude that Smith’s is one of the most important of all World Series homers, and statistically more important that Mazeroski’s in that it gave the Pirates an edge to win the game and the Series.

As ESPN’s Alok Pattani has reported, Smith’s home run “took the Pirates from having a 30 percent chance to win the game before the home run to being more than 90 percent favorites” to win the game (and the Series) after his home run — which they did.

Still, “the Mazeroski moment” carried the day in that October of 1960, and it lives on for the ages. For it was Mazeroski’s winning run that crossed the plate in the final Game 7 tally of 10-to-9, sending Pittsburgh into a frenzy. Yet Mazeroski himself – always humble in his much-feted heroic moment – has said many times, that his contribution was only one of many others in that game and in the 1960 World Series that resulted in Pittsburgh’s victory.

Kerry Keene's 2013 book, 'The Last Pure Season,' with Foreword by Dick Groat.
Kerry Keene's 2013 book, 'The Last Pure Season,' with Foreword by Dick Groat.

New Eras Ahead

The year 1960 was also something of a demarcation year – in sport, culture, and politics. In baseball, this was the last season of the 16-team professional structure – when the National and American baseball leagues each had eight teams. Expansion teams began to be added in 1961 and 1962. Nor were there Divisional or Championship Series playoffs in baseball then, only the regular season pennant races in each league and the World Series itself.

And beyond baseball, a few weeks following the 1960 World Series, the nation elected a new president, John F. Kennedy, who promised “a new frontier” and changes ahead. And so began not only a more modern era of government and politics, but also culture-wide changes in thinking, business, and personal style.

For additional stories on baseball, please visit the “Baseball Stories” topics page or go to the “Annals of Sports” page for sports stories generally. Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

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Date Posted: 20 October 2014
Last Update: 14 October 2018
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “The Mazeroski Moment: 1960 World Series,”
PopHistoryDig.com, October 20, 2014.

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Sources, Links & Additional Information

1960 Topps trading card for Vernon Law, an ordained Mormon minister at 17, nicknamed the “Deacon;” won 2 World Series games and the 1960 Cy Young Award.
1960 Topps trading card for Vernon Law, an ordained Mormon minister at 17, nicknamed the “Deacon;” won 2 World Series games and the 1960 Cy Young Award.
1960 Topps trading card for Mickey Mantle who hit a torrid .400 in the 1960 World Series, going 10 for 25 with 1 double, 3 homers, 8 runs scored, and 11 RBIs. Click for collectible.
1960 Topps trading card for Mickey Mantle who hit a torrid .400 in the 1960 World Series, going 10 for 25 with 1 double, 3 homers, 8 runs scored, and 11 RBIs. Click for collectible.
Pirate foursome of Burgess, Stuart, Clemente and Skinner shown on a 1963 Topps trading card, played in the 1960 World Series. In 1962 they combined for 274 RBIs.
Pirate foursome of Burgess, Stuart, Clemente and Skinner shown on a 1963 Topps trading card, played in the 1960 World Series. In 1962 they combined for 274 RBIs.
NY Daily News front-page headline for October 14, 1960, featured Kennedy-Nixon TV debate differences along with photo of Mazeroski home run celebration.
NY Daily News front-page headline for October 14, 1960, featured Kennedy-Nixon TV debate differences along with photo of Mazeroski home run celebration.
Historic marker at the former site of Forbes Field in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Historic marker at the former site of Forbes Field in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Bill Mazeroski World Series statue shown against Pittsburgh skyline along the Allegheny River at PNC Park.
Bill Mazeroski World Series statue shown against Pittsburgh skyline along the Allegheny River at PNC Park.

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This is a painting of the black-and-white photograph used at the top of this article.  It is the work of Graig Kreindler, and there are more of these “golden era” baseball paintings at his website, http://graigkreindler.com/
This is a painting of the black-and-white photograph used at the top of this article. It is the work of Graig Kreindler, and there are more of these “golden era” baseball paintings at his website, http://graigkreindler.com/

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