All 12 living members of the 1960 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates team visited PNC Park and were honored on the field prior to Saturday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies.
“We want to thank them for their hard work including the history they created,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Usually once I say that and get out of the way, they interact and share stories. They’ve been watching these guys play and that’s probably one of the coolest things. It’s a good day to get back together and honor those men.”
Prior to the on-field ceremony, the Pirates alumni met the current team in the dugout and traded stories and laughs.
Anyone who talks to any of these 1960 Pirates knows of the family atmosphere that the team possesses. Bill Mazeroski believes that it isn’t an accident.
“That’s what winning does for you,” Mazeroski said. “It’s a different atmosphere and you grow closer to each other and you pull for each other and you pick each other up. When you do that for a whole year, you grow together very much.
“That’s what I was telling the guys here. You don’t have reunions for 55 years for losers. You’ve got to win if you want to go to a reunion. They’ve got a good chance though if they keep it up and keep doing what they’re doing day by day.”
Members of the 1960 Pirates join other Pirates alumni in making a contribution to the current team at Spring Training. Mazeroski is among those who offers his assistance.
“It’s a lot more fun to watch a team when you know the players there,” said Mazeroski. “It’s fun going back to Spring Training and watching them play. You get to know the players every day and see how they’re going about their jobs. It’s wonderful just to try and help a little bit.”
The honor was one that meant a lot to those in attendance and Bob Friend said that it meant “a heck of a lot” he was quick to offer a comparison. Friend has been paying attention to this year’s team and saw similarities with the former world champions.
“This team has good chemistry, great talent and that’s what we had,” Friend said. “They have great management, too. Hurdle does a great job with this team. I’ve become a fan of this team. They’re exciting to watch. I’m glad to be back here with my teammates. We’re all in pretty good shape.”
He did not stop there. Friend stated that this team had all of the necessary tools to be a contender.
“They’ve got great speed,” said Friend. “They’ve got a great outfield. We had a great outfield too, with Roberto Clemente, Bill Virdon and Bob Skinner. They’ve got a great manager that gives everybody an opportunity to succeed, doesn’t play any favorites and it seems he communicates well with these guys.
“You can tell by the way they are. It’s a great team. They’ve got the whole package, no question about it. If they keep it strong and keep the faith, they’ll be there.”
Roberto Clemente Jr. was also in attendance with his brother Luis and recalled the scene from his father who passed along many stories from his time as a player before his passing 43 years ago.
He referred to the 1960 World Series as a classic case of David versus Goliath while also serving as a model to young children that goals can be accomplished if people set their minds to it.
Additionally, he reflected on his father, who was in his sixth season with the team in 1960.
“Last night every one of [the players’ wives] discussed how they felt about the man,” Clemente Jr. said. “After the fact it’s been 43 years since his death and understanding his legacy that he has left behind, dying at 38, that is an amazing feat what he did in a short period of time, and it’s everlasting. You have kids learning about him in school all over the nation.”
Seeing the former champions meet the potentially new ones brought a smile to Mazeroski’s face. He knows that fans are packing PNC Park once again with excitement and anticipation for a potentially long October.
“It’s a good feeling to see Pittsburgh be like Pittsburgh again and start pulling for the Pirates,” said Mazeroski. “It’s a sports city and it’s been a great city. I loved it and I wouldn’t have wanted to play anywhere else in the world.”
Photo credit: Pittsburgh Pirates