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Mazeroski’s Home run was a home run scored by Bill Mazeroski during the ninth inning of game 7 of the 1960 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the game tied at 9-to-9 Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski who was then batting hit a ball that flew over the Forbes Field stands that settled into the trees beyond the confines of the stadium. The home run won the Pirates the game and the World Series and is considered the greatest moment in baseball history.
The Run-up to Mazeroski’s Homerun
Going into the World Series, the Yankees and the Pirates had almost identical records in their respective leagues. The Yankees had taken the American League pennant with a 97-57 record while the Pirates topped the National League crown with a 95-59 record. The encounter between the two teams was therefore fairly evenly matched. In the Yankees ranks was Roger Maris, who had just broken Babe Ruth’s long running record with 61 home runs, supported by the likes of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Bill Skowron.
The Pirates also had heavy hitters in their roster with players such as Dick Stuart, Roberto Clemente and Dick Groat contributing to the regular season league high 734 runs. After winning game 1 6-4, the Pirates were then blown out 16-3 in game 2 and 10-0 in game 3, setting the Yanks as the favorites for the World Series. In game 4 the Pirates mastered a 3-2 win to even the series and then a 5-2 win to pull ahead once again. However, the Yankees delivered another embarrassing win to set up a tantalizing game 7, with the Yanks continuing to look like clear favorites.
Game 7 was set to be played at the Pirates home ground, the Forbes Stadium, but the home advantage did not exactly sway the odds in their favor. The game proved to be the magical spectacle that fans expected, as both teams fought tooth and nail and exchanged leads throughout the game.
After the Pirates had gone ahead 4-0 in the first two innings and shutting out the Yankees till the fifth inning, it was beginning to look like the Pirates were running away with the series. However a spirited fight back from New York saw them score four unanswered runs in the sixth inning to reverse the score line in their favor to 5-to-4. Both sides failed to score in the seventh inning but the Yankees added two more runs to increase their advantage further, 7-to-4.
At the bottom of the eighth inning, the Pirates were still down 3 points and were looking increasingly unlikely of staging a comeback. With 6 outs remaining, the Pirates hitters came to life once again with a single from Gino Cimoli cutting the deficit by one. A pitch from Bill Virdon hit the ground and bounced violently hitting Yankees shortstop Tony Kubeck in the throat.
Kubeck suffered a serious injury that left him unable to breath and caused the game to stop for a long time as he received treatment. When the game resumed, the Pirates the Pirates quickly cut the Yankees’ lead to one point through a Virdon run. A Hal Smith home run then tied up the game at 7-7, a moment that commentators hyped up as the most dramatic moment of the MLB, oblivious of what was to follow. After racing ahead 9-7, the Pirates again relinquished their lead to leave the contest tied at 9-9 at the bottom of the ninth inning.
With the Pirates batting next, they only needed one run to win the World Series. Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski stepped up to bat against the Yanks’ pitcher Ralph Terry. Mazeroski was having a decent fairly season but was not considered among the top home run threats.
Mazeroski’s hit from Terry’s first pitch did not trouble the Yankees, and this left the Pirates with just one final out to win the Series in the ninth inning. This time, Terry pitched low in the hitting zone, allowing Mazeroski’s bat to connect powerfully with the ball and send it high over the left field wall. Mazeroski’s home run had just made the Pirates champions and the stadium erupted into wild cheers.
Aftermath of Mazeroski’s Homerun
Photographer Marvin Newman captures a famous shot showing the field, scoreboard and Longines clock as the ball soared over the stadium stands, perhaps the most complete pictorial representation of this historic moment.
In 2010, on the 50th anniversary of his glorious hit, Mazeroski who had already been inducted to the hall of fame was honored with a bronze statue outside the PNC Park. The ever humble old timer, downplayed his own contribution hailing the Series win as a collective effort and dedicating the statue to the 1960 Pirates team.