Saturday night it was fun to be a Pirates fan again -- and exciting, too.
The cause of the celebrating was a 50-year-old grainy movie, filmed off a black-and-white TV, of NBC's telecast of the seventh game of the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees -- every pitch, every out, every foul ball, in short, Pirates heaven.
Unearthed fortuitously in the 50th anniversary year of the Pirates' world championship season, the film was shown for the first time in public to a packed house at Byham Theater, Downtown.
The MLB Network produced the event for a Dec. 15 special show and invited a live audience, and it got a very live one.
Fans hailed the eight members of the '60 team invited for the showing, clapped rhythmically to start "rallies," reacted loudly every time Roberto Clemente appeared on the screen and leapt to their feet for the two clutch home runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
Bill Mazeroski, enshrined for all time in Pittsburgh lore, was missing, ill with kidney stones, but shortstop Dick Groat, center fielder Bill Virdon, catchers Hal Smith and Bob Oldis, backup outfielder Joe Christopher and pitchers Vernon Law, ElRoy Face and Bob Friend made it.
Only one Yankees player showed his face -- second baseman Bobby Richardson, whose performance at the plate broke Series' records -- and was cheered loudly as well. Richardson, 75, holds another record. He's the only member of a losing Series team to be named most valuable player.
"When Sport magazine told me I was the MVP, I was shocked," Richardson said before the event. "I guess it was some consolation after we lost."
Among his 12 RBIs for seven games was his grand slam in the third game off Clem Labine.
"I was supposed to bunt, but I fouled off two pitches. Then Frank Crosetti [third-base coach] gave me the hit sign," said Richardson, who demonstrated the signals, "and I got a high pitch and maybe it reached the second row of the stands.
"When I got back to the bench, [manager] Casey [Stengel], said, 'Good bunt.' "
Ralph Terry, who delivered the pitch Mazeroski hit over the left-field wall to win the series, "was pheasant hunting" and couldn't make it, moderator Bob Costas claimed.
The night, though, belonged to the Pirates, led as usual by "captain and team leader" Groat, himself the National League MVP that year.
"We've been together a few times in this anniversary year," he said of his teammates, "and it's like we've never been apart. That kind of experience brings people together."
Costas broke away from the game every three innings to chat with the players on stage and in the front row of the Byham. Also there was Vera Clemente, widow of the Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. Current Pirates owner Bob Nutting, actor Michael Keaton, former Steelers running back Franco Harris and Nathaniel Crosby, son of Bing Crosby who set up the filming of the game, were among the celebrities.
(Bing Crosby owned a small piece of the team at the time. The film was found in Crosby's wine cellar last December, as reported here.)
After the film captured Smith blasting a three-run homer in the eighth inning to put the Pirates ahead, 9-7, the old catcher got stiffly to his feet to acknowledge a thunderous standing ovation.
"I had no idea what happened until I hit second base and saw fans jumping on the dugout," Smith said. "When I got to home plate, Groat and Clemente lifted me in the air. No matter what happened after that, I was just glad to help Pittsburgh."
Bob Hoover: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1634.