Here’s the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi, a regular contributor here.
On October 13, I was one of about 2,500 Pittsburgh Pirate fans who gathered at a small remaining section of the Forbes Field wall. Our shared mission: to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Buccos stunning 1960 World Series upset over the hated New York Yankees in the seventh game.
Every year fans unite at the wall to listen to a radio replay of the game while mixing and mingling to relive every precious moment. Some fans have small containers of dirt they dug up after the game. Others like me have old pennants or score cards that they have somehow held onto for all these decades. One fan had a 1960 yearbook along with the tickets stubs from games one and seven to prove he was there. I asked him how he had the foresight to save his stubs. He told me his mother, recognizing their historic value, stashed them away.
Everybody shares where they were at exactly 3:36 P.M. five decades ago when Bill Mazeroski hit his bottom of the ninth inning home run on a 1-0 count off Yankee relief pitcher Ralph Terry to win the game, 10-9. I was a New Jersey high school junior, the only Pirate fan in a room full of Yankees rooters.
Most years, players who live in the Pittsburgh area show up to happily talk with you or sign autographs. Among them are team captain and 1960 National League Most Valuable Player Dick Groat, now the color announcer for the University of Pittsburgh basketball team, premier relief pitcher Roy Face and workhorse starter Bob Friend.
Unfortunately, because of the large crowd, security personnel kept fans from interacting with the players.
This year, because the Forbes Field event was followed by a black tie dinner at PNC Park to honor the 1960 Bucs, the Pirates flew players in from across the nation. Included were stars like Vernon Law but also lesser lights like Joe Christopher, Bob Oldis and George “Red” Witt, a personal favorite of mine since I saw him play for the Hollywood Stars.
In 1957 Witt, a fire balling California right hander, notched an 18-7 record with a 2.24 ERA for the Stars. Unfortunately, arm trouble limited Witt to an 11-16 career mark with the Pirates, the Los Angeles Angels and the Houston Colt .45s. During the 1960 World Series, however, Witt appeared in three games and held the Yankees scoreless over 2.2 innings.
Much of the buzz among the fans was about the discovery of the Game Seven video tape thought to be lost forever but found in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar at his longtime home near San Francisco. The tape features the Yankees’ Mel Allen and the Pirates’ Bob Prince calling the game.
The MLB Network will televise the discovered Game Seven, with Bob Costas hosting, during the offseason. Player interviews will be included as part of the broadcast.
As for the special day at Forbes Field, I’ll note that although many cities have been the home team during historic World Series finales, Pittsburgh is the only city to stage an annual honorary day.
Forbes Field is long gone, replaced by the University of Pittsburgh School of Business. Many students have no idea a wonderful old ball park once stood where they now crack their books. Few have heard of Mazeroski. Some of the freshmen weren’t even alive the last time the Pirates had a winning season, 1992.
On October 13, none of that matters to those of us who remember that great 1960 year capped off by baseball’s most unforgettable game.
Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org