Fan memories: From seventh game to seventh heaven

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

I was 13 years old and starting high school when my father, who worked for United Press International news service, came home and said they needed six boys to work at Forbes Field.

The job was to follow UPI's photographers. When they got a good picture, you had to run the 35mm film canister to a trailer outside the park that was set up to develop the film and send it out on the "wire." This was how it was done before the digital age.

Dad said, "Take this job. You will never see anything like this again in Pittsburgh."

Well, I got the job, but I had to get a Social Security number, cut school for four days and tell many other little half-truths. But it all worked out in the end. I had a press pass that allowed me to run anywhere in the park except onto the field. I worked all four home games from great locations and got my first real paycheck.

For game seven, I was assigned to the left-field press box that hung from the second level like a grown-up's tree house. When Maz hit that homer, I was so happy to see that ball sail over the left-field wall, but it soon felt like an earthquake and I feared the old press box would shake off its hangers.

The game was over and all was right in the world. Looking out the windows of the streetcars from Oakland to the North Side, while everyone was singing, I witnessed celebrating similar to the old newsreels of the end of World War II. Office workers on Grant Street were dancing in the windows. Penn Avenue had a ticker-tape parade, most bars had signs for "free beer," and there were 30 people in every convertible, all waving and cheering.

The celebrating went on well into the night. I will never forget that magic time and that magic home run.

-- Fred Miller, Amherst, N.H. (with part of my heart still in Pittsburgh)

I was 14. I had a transistor radio and was listening with an earphone in science class when Hal Smith hit his home run. I couldn't contain myself and was asked to leave and go to the principal's office.

When I arrived, no one was there. I found my way to the library, where there was a TV ... and most of the school staff.

I quietly sat down unnoticed and was able to watch Maz's huge home run. I sprinted to a bus stop -- Shafer Lines in Coraopolis -- and headed Downtown for what I knew would be a historic, memorable, once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

It seems like just yesterday.

-- Tom Myl, Corapolis

I was watching the game in a store window on Liberty Avenue when Mazeroski hit the home run. Our employer wouldn't permit us to leave work early, but by 5 p.m. the streets were full of cars and traffic was at a standstill. There were no buses running.

Walking in high heels is rough, but especially when one must walk from downtown Pittsburgh to Troy Hill. Not many city dwellers slept that night for the honking of car horns and revelers.

The memory of this wonderful moment will remain forever. Go Pirates!

-- Barbara Spisic Hilderson, Homestead. Fla.

I was in the sixth grade at St. Therese's school in Munhall in October 1960. Our teacher was an older nun, and a few of us were able to sneak transistor radios into class to keep up with the weekday games. Of course, we weren't thinking about anything but baseball on the day of game seven. As the game went on, we would furtively listen in to get the score.

Finally, dismissal time arrived but the game wasn't over yet. I was afraid I wouldn't have time to make it all the way home to Trautman Street so I stood in the door of Carmine's Barber Shop on Main Street in Munhall to watch the ninth inning.

Oh man, what a thrill! I swear when Maz hit the home run, the entire city went dead quiet for about five seconds. Then, there was noise everywhere. Horns honked. People ran out into the street yelling and shouting. I ran the six or seven blocks home spinning my jacket around over my head.

I was 11, the perfect age to celebrate winning the World Series. Life couldn't get any better. Beat em, Bucs!

-- Bob Leitzel, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

I got in trouble for sneaking a transistor into my fourth-grade class to listen to the game. My teacher, Mrs. Shirey, took my radio and made me stay after school. While walking home after detention, I heard car horns blowing and ran the rest of the way home to find out Maz had hit a home run to win the series.

-- Anthony LaRocco, Spokane, Wash.

I was only 3 when Maz hit the homer in the 1960 World Series, so I only remember what I see in the film clips. But in 1971, I was 14 when the Pirates won their second World Series in my lifetime.

I was a neighbor of Maz in Greensburg, so me, my buddies and sister made a sign to congratulate Maz and the Pirates on the World Series victory. We put it in the front of his driveway.

Maz was the best second baseman I've ever seen. If you ask me, he waited way too long to get into the Hall of Fame.

-- Larry DiBagno, Greensburg

As a fourth-grader in 1960 going to St. Mary of the Mount in Mount Washington, I was desperate to know what was happening in that seventh game as I could not get out of school that day.

I pleaded with my parents to stay home that day so I could listen to it on the radio, but, I was made to go to school. I could not concentrate at all, and as I remember I kept asking the teacher if they had heard any update on the ballgame. I can't recall exactly when I heard about Maz's home run. It may have been just around the time school was dismissed.

Afterward, I remember running home along Grandview Avenue and looking down into the city and seeing the celebration that was breaking out.

-- Robert Jones, Boyertown, Pa.

We lived on Winebiddle Street in Bloomfield. I was 3 at the time, so I was probably taking a nap. But in later years, I remember my dad saying he turned the volume down on the TV and could hear the roar of the crowd.

I still have the 1960 World Series yearbook somebody gave him. It's far from mint condition but still fun to read.

And it was a thrill to be on hand recently for the unveiling of Maz's statue!

-- Donn Frizzi, Washington, Ill.

I was a sixth grader, and the afternoon of the seventh game I was on duty as a patrol boy at the intersection of 38th Street and Fourth Avenue in Beaver Falls.

The crossing guards were dismissed early so we could get to our posts. I had taken my Channel Master transistor radio -- a confirmation gift that spring -- with me to school, knowing I could listen to the end of the game.

When Maz hit the homer, I was so excited I jumped and yelled and then ran home, abandoning my post.

-- Jim Tripodi, Beaver

I had just started my senior year in high school and was a half-orphan (my father had died in October 1959). I lived in a middle-class neighborhood in Monroeville and now looked to my mother for complete support for both me and my three brothers.

A man I highly respected and who taught me a lot about life became my second father. I will refer to him only as Uncle Milty. He worked for United Press and always looked out for me.

Their photographers needed runners to take film to the press room during the World Series games at Forbes Field. So, he got me hired to be a runner for all four games of the 1960 Series in Pittsburgh. What a dream for a 17-year-old kid who was an avid baseball fan to be able to attend the four games and get paid for it.

My friends, one of whom was Uncle Milty's son, and I had seen probably 25 games that year by coming into Oakland and getting into the park at the end of the sixth inning and sitting in the bleachers for free. If you look back at the Pirates' season that year, they won many games in the last three innings thanks to Elroy Face and their ability to get hits and score using baseball smarts. We had little money and couldn't afford to pay. What a year!

So, getting to Maz, I agree, the punctuation point of the entire Series was the home run he hit to win the World Series. It was dramatic and totally satisfying to win the game that way. At the time, there were myriad pictures taken of the event. You could see Maz swinging, running to first and turning to second at full speed, hearing the crowd and seeing the ball clear the wall in center field, and then trotting to third and on to home plate where he was smothered with teammates and fans running onto the field from the stands.

However, you almost never see many of the extraordinary events that led to that dramatic moment. I tell my friends it's because of me that there are few pictures that exist of some of the drama that occurred before the home run.

The Pirates caught fire late in the game, trailing 7-5, when:

-- Single, Gino Cimoli.

-- Single, Bill Virdon (when Tony Kubek takes a bad hop to the neck).

-- Single and RBI, Dick Groat.

-- Single and RBI, Clemente.

While all of this is going on I am in the photographers' wooden box suspended from the upper deck on the first base side of Forbes Field with probably 15 photographers. In that eighth inning, every time a hit occurred, I started jumping up and down and screaming like the fan I was. The whole box shook. Their cameras were shaking because of me and they couldn't take their shots.

The press guys yelled at me every time that happened and threatened to throw me out of the box. Then when Hal Smith hit the home run to take a 9-7 lead for the Pirates, I went crazy, and the photographers kept their promise and threw me out of the box. Consequently, though, they didn't get any good pictures of Smith hitting the home run over the left field wall, rounding the bases, nothing.

I know that for a fact because they didn't have any film to be run down to the press room. I stood back on the gangplank, way outside the box, waiting to be summoned to carry the film. So, my conclusion is that I was the reason Hal Smith, who was as big hero of mine as Maz from that day on, gets little praise for his role in that game.

But that doesn't take anything away from Maz. As the article says -- and as Maz declares -- there were plenty of heroes in that game. The honor he receives is part and partial of that for all of his teammates on that wonderful, never-to-be-forgotten 1960 Pirates team.

Go Bucs!

-- Al D'Alo, Mt. Lebanon


You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here