On Saturday, the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates were celebrated. Fifty-five years ago this October, that team was immortalized as World Series Champions.
History was made that summer at Forbes Field, when the 1960 squad won 95 games, lost 59 and had one tie. They won the National League pennant and went on to play the New York Yankees in the World Series.
During that seven-game duel with the Yankees, a series in which the Pirates were outscored, outhit and outerrored, they came out victorious with the only walk-off home run in Game 7 of the World Series courtesy of second baseman, Bill Mazeroski.
Thinking back to that 1960 team makes one begin to think back on baseball as a whole in the city of steel.
Baseball history in the Steel City is unlike any other. Professional baseball has been a part of this city dating back to 1876. Originally the Allegheny Alleghenys (This was common back in those days), then becoming the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1887, then finally the Pirates in 1891.
Pittsburgh is also the only city to be the home of two Negro League teams in the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays.
Over time, the organization and city have experienced the highest of highs, winning five World Series championships, and the lowest of lows, 20 years of losing. From Maz’s Game 7 walk-off, to Sid Bream being called safe at home in NLCS in 1992, and the Blackout of the Wild Card game just a few years ago, baseball is the heart and soul of the great city of Pittsburgh.
From the players of old Wagner, Waner, Traynor and Kiner to the names from our parents generation Mazeroski, Stargell, Law, Tekulve and Clemente to the names of our generation, McCutchen, Cole, Liriano, Polanco and Marte. The coaches like Murtaugh, Tanner, Leyland and Hurdle.
Exposition Park to Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium and the gem that is PNC Park; the great stadiums of past and present have hosted many of memorable, historic games. The first ever World Series played in our back yard at Exposition Park. The 1960 World Series being walked off in Game 7 by Maz at Forbes Field. PNC Park being on the national stage as the Blackout and skyline took baseball by storm in 2013 in the Wild Card game.
Baseball and Pittsburgh go together like ketchup on a hot dog, a ball and glove. It is a history shared as rich as any I can think of outside of Cooperstown.
Children born in 2013 or later, only know the Pirates as a winning, playoff team, who have become a perennial NL Central power for years to come. Those born prior to 2013 know Pittsburgh’s baseball team to be the lovable losers who lost for 20 straight seasons and have taken Major League Baseball by storm since 2013.
Baseball in the city of Pittsburgh is back and not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Pennant races at PNC Park on the North Shore of Pittsburgh are an incredible thing. The city skyline prominently over the shoulders of outfielders in Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen, showing off how beautiful a stadium this city has. The stadium packed to the brim with Pirates fans shows a city, a fan base, reuniting with our Nation’s Pastime.
As you walk across the Clemente Bridge to get to PNC Park or walk around the North Shore, you see the statues of the immortal Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Honus Wagner and Mazeroski keeping watch over the beautiful stadium. Take a moment and close your eyes, think back on all of the rich history this sport has had in this city. And as you hear the sax-man play in the background, imagine the history you are being a part of, the history being made by this generation’s Pirates baseball team.