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Post-Season Baseball: The Agony & the Ecstasy

The Pirates' Bill Mazeroski Hits a World Series Home Run for the Ages (October 13, 1960)

Maz_rounding_bases_1960 Growing up in Pittsburgh, one of the proudest moments in the city's history, a story passed down through the generations, was the Pirates' World Series championship in 1960 over the mighty New York Yankees.  In the most dramatic ending in World Series history, Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning to win Game 7.  It seemed fitting that the title came to Pittsburgh because the "Steel City" was going through its "Renaissance" at the time, a massive civic campaign to clean the air/water, create parks and rebuild parts of downtown. 

 

DSCN1091 In the first six games of the Series the Yankees had scored twice as many runs as Pittsburgh, yet the Pirates managed to win three games.  In the games won by the Yanks, they crushed the Pirates (by scores of 16-3, 10-0, 12-0) while the Pirates wins were games in which its pitchers shined (6-4, 3-2, 5-2).  Then in Game 7 the Pirates ramped up its offense.  It was a see-saw game and after the Yankees scored two runes in the top of the 9th the game was tied 9-9.

 

Images "Maz" was the first batter in the bottom of the 9th and he hit his famous home run a little past 3:30.  My mother was watching the game with my older brother and sister who were already home from school (2nd and 5th Grades, respectively).  As for me, I was just 3 years old so I have no recollection.  Since my father had bet against the Pirates, when he came home from work at 4:30 Mom and my brother Darrell met him on the sidewalk waving a "crying towel".  His bet was with a neighbor from across the street for a case of beer (Iron City, of course).  Mr. Zamanski magnanimously didn't want Dad to pay-up but Dad insisted and they drank a bottle together.

 

 

 

Bucs_are_champs_headline Fast forward 50 years.  As the anniversary of Game 7 approached word came that a kinescope of the game had been found in the wine cellar of Bing Crosby's home outside of San Francisco.  Crosby had been a partial owner of the Pirates back in 1960 and was too nervous to watch the game so he arranged to have a tape made of the game being shown on the TV screen that he could watch later.  It's the only recording of the entire that exists.   

 

Maz_and_statue The Pirates also had dramatic World Series triumphs in 1971 and 1979, both times coming from 3-games-to-1 deficits to prevail (defeating Baltimore each time).  However, neither matched the adrenaline rush of that late afternoon home run over the scoreboard in beloved Forbes Field.  (The book The Best Game Ever: Pirates 10 Yankees 9 offers an in-depth, inning-by-inning account of Game 7.)  Happily, "Maz" is still with us (at age 77) and to honor him a statue outside Heinz Field was unveiled three summers ago.

 

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