PITTSBURGH — When Bill Mazeroski's home run sailed over the left-field wall at Forbes Field, ending the 1960 World Series with a Pittsburgh Pirates' victory, it sent baseball soaring into a new era.
For decades, it had been a sport of two eight-team leagues centered in the big cities of the East. Even in 1960, when the National League was playing in Los Angeles and San Francisco, many teams still traveled by train.
The Yankees, for example, rode the rails back to New York after the first two Series games in Pittsburgh. The Pirates caught a DC-6 charter.
By 1961, both the American and National leagues stretched from coast-to-coast for the first time. The AL expanded from eight to 10 teams by adding the Los Angeles, now California, Angels and the Minnesota Twins. All travel was by air.
The Yankees returned to the Series in 1961--and '62, '63 and '64--but former Manager Casey Stengel and General Manager George Weiss didn't. Both were eased out of their jobs even before Pittsburgh had finished celebrating its first world championship in 35 years.
Weiss and Stengel were reunited in 1962 on a new NL team called the New York Mets. By the end of the decade, the "Amazin' Mets" were champions of the world.
And what happened to Roger Maris, the Yankees' right fielder and the 1960 AL MVP? In 1961, he hit 61 home runs to break baseball's most revered record--Babe Ruth's single-season homer mark of 60.
Four players in the '60 Series would later send sons on to the major leagues: Pirate infielder Dick Schofield (infielder Dick, Angels), Pirate pitcher Vern Law (infielder Vance, Montreal Expos), Yankee catcher Yogi Berra (infielder Dale, Pirates and Yankees) and Pirate outfielder Bob Skinner (catcher Joel, White Sox).
The late Pirate outfielder, Roberto Clemente, had two sons in minor league baseball this season, and Pirate pitcher Fred Green's son, Gary, was a star on the 1984 U.S. Olympic baseball team. Pirate catcher Hal Smith's nephew, Tim Flannery, is a San Diego Padres' infielder.
Also from the '60 team: The Pirates' Bill Virdon, and Berra and Skinner became managers; the Yankees' Tony Kubek is an NBC-TV sportscaster and announces Toronto Blue Jays' television games; and Bobby Richardson of the Yankees is baseball coach at Coastal Carolina College, near Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Whitey Ford, the ace of the Yankees' staff, pitched 18 shutout innings in winning both his '60 Series starts. But he was passed over by Stengel for the first game assignment, thus costing him the chance to start the seventh game.
Ford (12-9) had arm trouble in the regular season, so Stengel started Art Ditmar, 15-9, in Game One. Ditmar failed to survive the first inning in a 6-4 Pirates' victory keyed by --guess who?--Mazeroski's home run.
"Everybody was asking me why I didn't start," Ford said. "I didn't know, but I never asked Casey. It was the only time I was ever mad at him."
Hal Smith, whose three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game Seven gave the Pirates a short-lived 9-7 lead, wonders what the national reaction would be if the '60 Series were played today.
"A lot of people in baseball say the '60 Series was the greatest ever--Joe Garagiola is one--but some people remember only the games they saw on TV. A lot of people missed the Series back then because they were day games," Smith said.
"I'll guarantee you one thing--no team ever again will be outscored, 38-3, in losing three games and still win the Series, like we did."
Pirate pitcher Harvey Haddix says "a day hasn't gone by" that he hasn't been reminded of pitching 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves in 1959. Mazeroski relates a similar tale of his homer.
"People want to tell you where they were, what they were doing," Mazeroski. "Someone mentions it almost every day."
Two years after giving up Mazeroski's famous homer, Ralph Terry won 24 games and was the winning pitcher in the seventh game of the Yankees' World Series triumph over the San Francisco Giants.
Terry, after retiring, played with Mazeroski in several pro-am golf tournaments and likes to tell a strange story about a golf game in Europe.
Terry ran into an Englishman who, upon learning that Terry once played "rounders," told of the one and only baseball game he ever watched. He was in Pittsburgh for a meeting with U.S. Steel executives and was treated to a morning round of golf at Oakmont and an afternoon game at Forbes Field--Game Seven of the '60 Series.
The Englishman recounted how "this bloke from Pittsburgh hit the ball clear over a wall . . .
Terry smiled and said: "You won't believe this, but I was the bloke that served that up."