Pirates Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski is best known for his walk-off home run in Game 7 to clinch the 1960 World Series over the New York Yankees. His legendary round tripper and record-breaking accomplishments as a second basemen have earned him a spot among the greatest players in Pittsburgh Pirates history.
Mazeroski was born on Sept. 5, 1936, in Wheeling, W.Va. His father, a coal miner who played minor league baseball, taught his son the sport at an early age. Mazeroski played shortstop and pitched at Warren Consolidated High School in Tiltonsville, Ohio, where he led his team to the state baseball championships. Shortly after graduation in 1954, Mazeroski tried out for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who signed the 17-year-old and assigned him to their Class A team in Williamsport, Pa. During spring training in 1955, the organization asked Mazeroski to move from shortstop to second base. Impressed after watching him effortlessly turn a double play, Pirates general manager Branch Rickey permanently moved Mazeroski to second base, a position he would play the rest of his career.
Mazeroski made his Major League Baseball debut on July 7, 1956. In 1958, during the Pirates’ best season since 1944, he batted .275 with a career-high 19 home runs, and turned more than 100 double plays. He earned his first All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove Award for his efforts.
Two years later, Mazeroski helped to lead the Pirates to the 1960 World Series against the heavily favored New York Yankees. The Bucs took a 3-2 series lead, but a 12-0 shutout by Yankees southpaw Whitey Ford forced a seventh game in Pittsburgh. With the game tied 9-9 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Mazeroski blasted a 1-0 pitch from Yankees hurler Ralph Terry over the left field wall at Forbes Field to win the game. The 10-9 victory secured the Pirates’ first championship since 1925.
Mazeroski spent his entire 17-year career with the Pirates, retiring in 1972 as the all-time Major League leader with 1,706 double plays as a second baseman. He played in seven All-Star Games, earned two World Series titles and won eight Gold Glove Awards.
In 1987, the Pirates retired Mazeroski’s No. 9 jersey, one of only 10 to be retired by the organization. In 2001, he was enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame for his outstanding career and starring role in one of the greatest moments in sports history.
Thanks to a recent donation by Alba and Thomas Tull, visitors can see Mazeroski’s iconic uniform and bronzed 35-inch Louisville Slugger bat from Game 7, along with other artifacts from the 1960 World Series, every day at the Heinz History Center. For more information, visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org.