If you’re a baseball fan who was alive during the time, or if you’ve studied baseball history at all, then you probably think of October 1960 as one of those golden months when pure magic unfolded on the diamond.
Because, in October of 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates won the National League pennant to set up a showdown in the World Series with the mighty New York Yankees, who hadn’t won a Fall Classic since wayyyyy back in 1958.
That 1960 Series really would turn out to be a classic, too, with the teams trading blows for six games, setting up a Game 7 showdown at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.
In that final battle, the Bucs jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings, but the Yanks fought back to take a 7-4 lead entering the bottom of the eighth.
Lo and behold, though, Pittsburgh exploded for five runs in their half of the inning and went to the ninth with a chance to lock down their first championship since 1925.
Alas, the Bombers answered with two runs of their own in the top of the ninth, and the Pirates came up with the score tied, 9-9.
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Leading off the bottom of the ninth inning was young second baseman Bill Mazeroski, who had just turned 24 the month before and who already had a reputation as an ace glove man and a so-so contributor from the batter’s box … though he could muster a little pop now and then (19 home runs in 1958, for example).
And, wouldn’t you know it?
On a 1-0 pitch from Yankees reliever Ralph Terry, that pop decided to show up.
Maz swung … connected … and the ball didn’t stop until it plunked into the stands in left-center field, a little more than 406 away, if you believe the writing on the wall.
The Pirates had their championship and Maz had a moment that’s etched in the history books and that, arguably, helped him gain entry into the Hall of Fame in 2001 (Veteran’s Committee Election), even with overall stats that look somewhat pedestrian.
But, while Maz is remembered by everyone for that one fateful swing of the bat, those who saw him play still marvel at his defensive wizardry.
To hear the old(er) timers tell it, he was kind of the Ozzie Smith of second base, 20 years earlier.
So it’s sort of fitting, I think, that a few lucky kids were able to watch that 1960 World Series play out with a 1960 MacGregor Mazeroski card by their sides.
That’s MacGregor, as in the glove maker, of whom the old Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards (via SmallTraditions) said:
The MacGregor Sporting Goods Co. was one of the pioneers in celebrity marketing, creating an advisory staff in 1960 to market its products.
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That association manifested in a set of 25 glossy, black-and-white cards on thin stock, with a checklist that included luminaries like Willie Mays and Frank Robinson and … Jerry Casale.
And, of course, Bill Mazeroski.
After that one shining moment in the 1960 World Series, though, you have to wonder how Louisville Slugger didn’t form their own advisory council in 1961, with Maz as their front man.
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