View Full Version : When Mantle and Maris were slayed by Maz

06-23-2010, 02:45 PM
from the Wall Street Journal

By JOHN MOODY Pittsburgh, Pa.

'You know what it was about that World Series that got everyone so excited?" asks Gino Cimoli, an outfielder on the 1960 Pirates known for his dramatic hits and his salty tongue. "We weren't supposed to win. The Yankees had all these superstars and we were just a bunch of ordinary guys."

With 17 consecutive losing seasons—and on track for another this summer—the Pittsburgh Pirates have had little to celebrate on the baseball field of late. But at tonight's game against the Cleveland Indians, the National League club will reach back to honor Mr. Cimoli and 13 other surviving members of that storied championship squad.

For readers unfamiliar with the history, the 1960 Pirates shocked the baseball world—and the mighty New York Yankees, including Mantle, Maris, Berra and Ford—by winning the World Series. The high point was a game seven, bottom-of-the-ninth home run by Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski off Ralph Terry. It was the only time baseball's crown has been awarded due to a walk-off round tripper.

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Associated PRess

Second baseman Bill Mazeroski rounds third base after hitting his World Series-winning home run against the Yankees on Oct. 13, 1960.
.So deeply is that event embedded in Pittsburghers' collective consciousness that each October 13, often in stinging sleet, a recording of the radio broadcast of that game is played outside in real time in front of the last remnant of the Forbes Field wall still standing in the city's Oakland district. Hundreds of fans who attended that game (and hundreds more who only claim they did) converge with folding chairs, thermoses of unidentified liquids and increasingly misty memories of a team that once was.

Every year on that afternoon, long after the current Pirates have been swept from contention and the city's ardor drifts to its beloved Steelers, the Pirates twice take and cede the lead in game seven. At precisely 3:36 p.m., Maz deposits Terry's 1-0 slider over the left field wall into Schenley Park, where it was never found, and NBC announcer Chuck Thompson errantly shouts that the Pirates have won the game 10-0 (it was 10-9).

To confine that 1960 miracle to the realm of sports is akin to referring to the 2000 presidential election as an accounting anomaly. The victory put much-reviled Pittsburgh on the map and changed it forever. After 1960, the "Smoky City"—which O. Henry described as the "low-downdest hole" he had ever seen and its inhabitants as "the most ignorant, ill-bred, contemptible, boorish, degraded, insulting, sordid, vile, foul-mouth, indecent, profane, drunken, dirty, mean and depraved"—could bear any jibe with a tolerant smile: The Bucs had gone all the way.

The psychological lift came at just the right time. The city had started cleaning up its notoriously soot-filled skies, but the improvement came at the cost of thousands of local jobs in the steel industry, which moved to lower-cost, nonunion cities in the U.S. and abroad. Pittsburgh could never again legitimately call itself Steel City.

"We celebrate the '60 Series so much more than any other because the victory was so dramatic and because it was right here in Pittsburgh, unlike the Pirates' two subsequent championships in 1971 and 1979," says Brian O'Neill, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the town's unofficial tone poet.

Mr. Cimoli, the outfielder, remembers the drama: "We came from behind and won 30 games that year in the ninth inning. [Manager Danny] Murtaugh had a bum stomach and he couldn't stand to watch the ninth in the dugout. He'd go back to the damn locker room and drink Maalox. And we'd score a couple runs and win the bastard for him. That helped his stomach more than medicine."

The current Pirates manager, John Russell, can't swallow enough antacid to quell his churning insides. In his first two years at the helm, the Bucs have lost 95 and 99 games and are now mired at the bottom of their division. The 2010 Pirates are not going anywhere but home for the post-season.

Still, team President Frank Coonelly sees better times ahead. "While we are struggling badly on the field at the Major League level right now, I am confident that our talent level is improved and that we will play better during the remainder of the year. I'll be disappointed if we are not contenders in the near future," he told a recent meeting of hard-core Pirate devotees.

For long-suffering fans, that can't happen soon enough. PNC Park is often half-occupied for games, and some fans boo the club's modern-day mascot, an outsized Pirates' parrot, simply because it reminds them of their current misery. Drew Balog, a retired teacher who snuck into game seven in 1960, sees green shoots of hope. "Some of the kids they've brought up show a lot of promise," he says. "There's frustration, sure, but there's a buzz on nowadays. Guys my age who remember 1960 are bringing their grandchildren to games again." Spoken like a true Pittsburgher.

Mr. Moody, an executive at News Corporation, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, is the author of "Kiss It Good-bye: The Mystery, the Mormon and the Moral of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates," just out from Shadow Mountain Press.

06-23-2010, 04:21 PM
The amazing thing about that series was that the Yankees out scored the Pirates 55 - 27. In 2 games they were out scored 22 - 0, and 16 - 3 in a third. .

Students atop Cathedral of Learning, October 13, 1960, celebrating Mazeroski's World Series ending home run


06-23-2010, 05:08 PM
I can't wait for the day when this is actually happening again... I'm tired of reading about it being sooooooooooooooo long ago..

06-23-2010, 05:24 PM
I can't wait for the day when this is actually happening again... I'm tired of reading about it being sooooooooooooooo long ago..

I'm sure it will come someday. We might be watching it from a nursing home though.