Last night I dialed up the final game of 1960, game 7 of the World Series between the Yankees and Pirates, to watch. A big thank you to Bing Crosby for the existence of the only complete tape of the game. The movie star was also part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Apparently he was going to be traveling to Europe on game day, so he arranged to have someone tape the TV feed for him. Said tape was discovered among his affects just a few years ago.
What a pleasure it was hearing Mel Allen call a game. So was getting to watch Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, et al play. So was actually seeing a game at Forbes Field.
Just about every fan of baseball history is well aware that Mazeroski hit a walk off home run to win the WS for the Pirates as the first batter in the bottom of the 9th…but I at least did not know what all transpired to set up that sudden conclusion. It was actually a game that would be familiar to today’s fans. It was a 10-9 ballgame that featured 5 homers and multiple pitching changes by both teams. What wasn’t like today’s game: it was completed in 2:36.
At first it looked like it’d be a laugher. The Pirates scored 2 runs each in the first and second innings—a 2 run blast by Rocky Nelson in the first and a small ball rally in the second. Mazeroski had 2 hits in the games—the game ending blast…and a bunt single in the second inning rally. In the bottom of the third, up 4-0, the Pirates had the bases loaded with no outs…and scored no runs. Bobby Shantz induced a dribbler back to the mound that started a rare 1-2-3 double play then retired the next batter to end the threat. The Yankees pushed one across in the 5th and took a 5-4 lead in the 6th on a Yogi Berra 3-run homer to right. Danny Murtaugh, Pirates manager, maybe should have let Vern Law try to pitch out of a jam but instead pulled him for Elroy Face, who gave up the bomb to Berra (who played LF that day, BTW). The Yankees stretched their lead to 7-4 with two more runs in the top of the 8th—Mantle had his 3rd single and 2nd RBI of the day. Unfortunately for them, the Pirates then scored 5 in the bottom half of the inning. Included in that was a 3-run blast by Hal Smith that Mel Allen called one of the most dramatic base huts in WS history at the bottom of the 9th just before Mazeroski’s historic homer, which immediately and permanently overshadowed Smith’s. Of course, before then, the Yankees again rallied for two runs to tie the game up at 9-9 in the top of the 9th. Harvey Haddix was a bit of a vulture that day—coming in to pitch the 9th, blowing the save, then getting credit for the win.