PITTSBURGH — Dick Groat remembers the moment he realized the Pirates could beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series.
“I can remember being at shortstop in the ninth inning of the first game,” Groat told our partners at TribLive.com. “A ground ball was hit to Maz (Bill Mazeroski). He came up with it, gave me a perfect throw, and I turned the double play. As soon as I released the ball I said, ‘We can beat these guys!’ and I can remember it as if it happened an hour ago.”
Tuesday marked the 60th anniversary of Mazeroski’s heroic home run in Game 7 of the World Series. He smashed the baseball into history at exactly 3:36 p.m. at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.
“When I lived (in Hempfield), every time I went out, somebody would ask about it,” said Mazeroski, 84, who has moved to the Philadelphia area. “It’s never gotten too bad. I’ve never gotten overwhelmed with it. It’s just that people keep bringing it up. But I’m quite comfortable with it.”
The 1960 Pirates were a confident bunch. As the season wore on, the team continually pulled out come-from-behind wins. Coupled with the camaraderie among the players, the team only had two four-game losing streaks that year. They won 95 games, lost 59 and won their first pennant in 33 years.
By Game 7 of the World Series, the Yankees were leading 7-4 after a three-run homer by Yogi Berra. Pirates center fielder Bill Virdon managed to hit a ground ball to shortstop, where it bounced up and hit the player in the neck. Runners were on first and second base. Groat then singled, driving in a run, and the comeback was on. Roberto Clemente then smashed another single, driving in another run. The Pirates were leading 9-7.
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The nearly 40,000 fans at Forbes Field were going nuts. NBC Radio play-by-play announcer called it “an outdoor insane asylum.”
The Yankees managed to tie the game up in the ninth inning at 9-9. Mazeroski was up next to hit for the Pirates.
"I just went up to the plate saying to myself, ‘I gotta hit the ball hard somewhere. I got to get on base,’ " Mazeroski said. “The first pitch (from Yankees hurler Ralph Terry) was high, and I took it for a ball. The next pitch he got down a little bit, and I hit it good. I knew I hit it good, but I wasn’t sure it was going to go out, so I was busting my tail around first base. When the umpire gave the home run signal, well, I don’t think I touched the ground all the way around from second base.”
Mazeroski’s hit remains the only time the seventh game of the World Series ended with a walk-off home run. The Pirates won 10-9, giving Pittsburgh its first championship since 1925.
Mazeroski would go on to play 12 more seasons with the Bucs. He is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame as arguably the best defensive second baseman in baseball history.
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