Posted: 09/06/2011

 

BASEBALL’S GREATEST GAMES: 1960 WORLD SERIES GAME 7

(2010)

by Sanela Djokovic




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It was the first and only Game 7 World Series-winning, walk-off home run in the history of Major League Baseball, and it punctuated an outstanding series filled with oddities. During the national broadcast of the 1960 World Series on NBC, Pittsburgh Pirates announcer Bob Prince called it the “zaniest World Series you could ever witness, with everything in it except for a forfeited game.” But not even the zany events leading up to Game 7 could prepare Prince, the Yankees, the Pirates, fans and viewers all over the country for the rollercoaster ride of a game and its unbelievable ending.

The energetic crowd at Forbes Field (and all of Pittsburgh) was hungry for a championship, which had evaded them since their last win in 1925. They were not only eager, but confident, despite the fact that they were considered underdogs beside the New York Yankees, a team that won six World Series titles during the 1950’s and whose line-up boasted the names of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra.

Pirates fans had reason to cheer early when their team took a quick and substantial lead, but by the ninth inning, after a few big home runs on both sides, several pitching changes, and couple of unusual plays (that includes a double-play ball that took a bad hop and hit Yankee shortstop Tony Kubek in the face), the lead had been transferred from one side of the scoreboard to the other throughout.

Until Bill Mazeroski, the Pirates’ second-baseman and the lead-off hitter in the ninth, hit a ball deep into the left field stands, creating pandemonium and opening the floodgates of celebrating fans.

Right after the 1960 World Series, many baseball fans and professionals in the game and media would say that that Game 7 would have to be the greatest game they had ever witnessed, and they would probably be hard-pressed to think of a game that matches it even up until today (although there are contenders).

It was not only an upset for the ages (think along the lines of the 2001 World Series Game 7 where the Yankees were ready to win their fourth straight title in the ninth inning and Mariano Rivera of all people loses the lead and the game and the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks), but it was the way in which they upset the Yankees, who had outscored them 46-17 in the series: With one heroic swing of the bat from 24-year-old Maz, who would spend his entire Hall of Fame career with the Pirates.

As Pirates outfielder Gino Cimoli put it in a post-game interview: “They broke all the records and we won the game.”

The first in the series from Baseball’s Greatest, straight from the MLB archives and produced by MLB Productions and A&E Networks Home Entertainment, 1960 World Series Game 7 is a gem for any baseball lover, for those who saw Maz’s shot when it happened on TV or for those of us who have seen the 30-second clips of the shot a million times over.

The DVD, in black and white, is not one where you’re going to want to skip to the end for the historic home run. You’re going to want to see Casey Stengel come out of the dugout to talk to his pitchers, Yogi Berra playing left field and hitting a three-run home run, and the “broad-shouldered Mickey Mantle,” (as Bob Prince describes him in the broadcast) work his magic at the plate. You’re going to want to see how ballplayers shook hands and celebrated in a milder fashion, and you’re going to want to listen to the speedy post-game interviews of the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates who described themselves as “awful proud.”

Some games represent all that’s great and iconic about baseball, and this piece of history is one such example.

Sanela Djokovic is a writer living in the Bronx.



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