“Here’s the swing, and a high fly ball going deep to left, this may do it back goes Berra. It is over the fence Pirates Win”. A call that will never be forgotton.
T0night on the MLB Network, they are airing for the first time in its full length, the original footage of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series where the Pirates defeated the New York Yankee thanks to Bill Mazeroski’s walk off homerun. I circled it on my calender when they first announced they were going to air it back in September and the day has finally come. For anyone who knows me, they know I’m a true Pirates fan through and through. I only wish I was alive to watch this game and witness what a winning Baseball team does to this City. For those who don’t know, the Yankees were heavily favored in this series like they always were. The three Yankee wins were complete blowouts, while the Pirates wins were all close throughout the series. Noone gave the Pirates a chance in their first World Series since the 1927 Series where they lost to, you guessed it the Yankees. That all changed with one swing of the bat by the Wheeling West Virginia native Bill Mazeroski on October 13, 1960.
Maz led off the bottom of the ninth inning and changed the Pirates history forever with a solo shot off of Yanks pitcher Ralph Terry over the left centerfield wall. To make it more interesting, the Hall of Fame member wasn’t known as a power hitter at all as he only finished up with a career total of 138 career homeruns. It remains to this day, the only walk off homer to win a Game 7 of the World Series. Wow, how amazing that would be to witness that game. Watching film on it is part of the reason I still believe that this franchise can once again turn it around and make a serious push. After 18 straight losing seasons (lets be honest with ourselves, it’s going to be 19 this year), why do people like myself continue to believe in this organization? Is it time to give up on them like many have until they turn it around? In a era where the Cliff Lee took a ‘pay cut’ of 30 million dollars to be with the Phillies, how is a small market team supposed to contend year after year? Our big signing so far this season has been Lyle Overbay. Yes, the 33 year old who looks like he is going to continue to make Pittsburgh the graveyard for veterans. Jeremy Burnitz, Raul Mondesi, Derek Bell, Jose Mesa, Matt Lawton, are a few that have experienced the same. Will the Pirates ever again be able to return to the glory days?
Build through the draft and improve the farm system is the way many people say to improve this club. The Pirates have answered that by drafting Pitchers Stetson Allie, Jameson Taillon and signing 16 year-old Luis Heredia from Mexico. If two of those pitchers make it to the big leagues, consider it a success. What about in the meantime? Last year is when the ‘calvary’ got called up to try to right the ship. Neil Walker, Jose Tabata (thank you Xavier Nady trade) and Pedro Alvarez have added an offensive spark and will only continue to improve. But what do the Pirates do in the meantime while waiting on those young Pitchers? Their staff is horrible and with all due respect to new additions Scott Olsen and Kevin Correia, it still needs alot of help. Locking up three of the core players in the previously mentioned Tabata, Walker, Alvarez and also Andrew McCutchen will play a big part in it to show that they are committed to success. The Pirates won’t ever be a club that can spend $100 million on a pitcher and the faster that fans realize it, the easier it will be. They need the Olsen’s of the market to contribute and hope to luck out on a trade such as acquiring James McDonald from the Dodgers. Isn’t this the same story that we have heard before with the young pitchers in our system? Are the failures of John Van Benschoten, Bryan Bullington and Kris Benson that far out of memory already as they were supposed to be the arms that saved us?
We can hope that these kids turn into the next Doug Drabek but there is no way of telling. I’m happy to see the commitment that management has shown in the past year with the draft and small splashes in free agency. If the Twins were able to go from one of the lowest payroll teams to one of the Top 10 and the Rays were able to go from the laughing stock of Baseball to the World Series, then why not the Pirates? If Manager Clint Hurdle is given the time to develop the young team like he had the chance to do in Colorado, then I think things are heading in the right direction. The team is still 3 years off as the Pitchers and Catcher of the future Tony Sanchez continue to develop. If the core can stay intact, then things will soon turn around for the odd team out in the City that is used to winning and whether they will admit it or not, wants to enjoy baseball once again.
Until that day comes where we are proud of our team, sit back at least for one night, and reminisce by watching the greatest day is Pittsburgh sports history. I hope as it has inspired me, that it will do the same to you as well and allow you to keep the faith in the Pirates.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com