My Evening With Bob Costas, MLB Network and the 1960′s Pirates

I’m pleased to present the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi, a regular contributor here. Today, Joe writes about attending the premier showing for recently uncovered footage of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

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The stage: Forbes Field, October 13, 1960
The scene: Seventh World Series game, bottom of the first inning, Pittsburgh Pirates at bat against New York Yankee starter “Bullet” Bob Turley.

In the top of the first, Cy Young award winner Vernon Law retired the Yankees, one-two-three. Bobby Richardson lined out to shortstop Dick Groat, Tony Kubek popped out to Bill Mazeroski and Roger Maris fouled out to Don Hoak.

Before Turley, who had won game two, threw a pitch Casey Stengel had ordered double barrel action in the bull pen with lefty Bobby Shantz and right hander Ralph Terry furiously warming up.

Whether Turley fell apart when he saw Stengel perched on the top of the dugout stairs to yank him at the slightest sign of trouble or just didn’t have it, he came out faster than a sore tooth in the second. New hurler: Bill Stafford. (See Stengel poised to give Turley the hook here.)

While the game is most famous for Mazeroski’s ninth inning home run, having two pitchers warm up before the starter has thrown a pitch may be without precedent.

How Stengel mishandled his pitchers was one of dozens of insights, this one provided by Richardson, during MLB.com’s premier showing at Pittsburgh’s Byham Theater of the lost Bing Crosby tape of the famous seventh game.

Richardson, the lone Yankee present, Dick Groat and Bill Virdon were on stage with host Bob Costas. In the audience were catchers Hal Smith and Bob Oldis, Bob Friend, El Roy Face, Joe Christopher and Law. All including special guests Franco Harris, Nathaniel Crosby and archivist Robert Bader got rousing applause throughout the evening. Smith, whose two out, three run homer in the bottom of the eighth briefly put the Pirates ahead 9-7, got a standing ovation.

Ironically Mazeroski, recovering in the hospital from kidney stones, was absent.

For fifty years, baseball historians have been unable to explain why Stengel overlooked Whitey Ford, one of the most successful World Series pitchers in the game’s annals, in favor of journeyman Art Ditmar for the crucial Game One.

Ford was certainly not tired. His last regular season outing was on September 28 when he pitched five innings against the Washington Senators. By October 5, Game One, Ford had six days rest.

Stengel’s fatal choice of Ditmar killed any chances the Yankees had to win the series. Shelled in the first and fifth games, Ditmar’s series line was: 0-2; ERA 21.60

Ford, who in a normal rotation would have started games one, four and seven, ended up pitching complete game shutouts in the third and sixth contests. Ford’s line: 2-0, ERA 0.00

Richardson, when asked directly by Costas why Stengel chose Ditmar, could not explain it. And again, when Ford warmed up briefly in the seventh game but never got the call, Costas asked why. Richardson’s reply: “Good question.”

Pirates’ announcer Bob Prince shared the game call with the Yankees’ Mel Allen. Both worked alone but brilliantly and never missed a beat. The actual game only took 2:36 but the edited version in black and white with no graphics, no replays, no commercials and which segues immediately from one inning to the next runs just over two hours.

The batters didn’t step out of the box or wear batting gloves; the pitchers worked fast.

MLB.com will broadcast the game nationally on December 15. The two-DVD set will be available for purchase December 14th and includes the game and the Pittsburgh pre-game tape that includes all of Costas’ witty exchanges with the Pirates and plenty of his own entertaining insights.

I’ve already placed my order!

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Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com

0 thoughts on “My Evening With Bob Costas, MLB Network and the 1960′s Pirates”

  1. I can’t wait to see the broadcast again. This was the ONLY time in my life I ever “faked” being sick, in the 6th grade, in order to stay home and watch the game on TV in Northern Va./Washington DC. I think I finally admitted it to my mother some 40 yrs. later, but to this day, the game ranks at the top of my list along w/in person games w/Ohio State/Purdue and OSU/Michigan in 1968 for #1 football rankings, and the natl. championship as a student, and Kenny Rogers perfect game for the Rangers in 1995. But Mazeroski’s home run was STILL the best! What a treat to be able to enjoy the game again, along w/my son…as he has heard all the stories and was at the perfect game too. To see Mantle,Maris,Kubek,Clemente,Law,and all the other greats in this FABULOUS World Series game…is just phenomenal! Thanks to all for putting it on again.

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