Maz Hoped It Would Go for HR
Champagne drops off the head of Bill Mazeroski in the dressing room.
Between first and second.
Heading for third.
Turning for home.
Nearing the end of the journey.
His dreams came true.
Try to find him in mob.
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"I was too happy to think. I was really happy. I don't know what I thought."
Those were the words Bill Mazeroski uttered when asked what he thought when he connected with the pitch that sank the Yankees in the World Series finale yesterday.
"I thought it would go over ... I was hoping it would. But I was too happy to think. Yes, it was the same kind of pitch I hit in the first game."
Only a few short, happy minutes before, the Pirates 24-year-old second baseman hit a home run over the left field wall to give the Bucs a 10-9 victory and their first World Series championship in 35 years.
"We kept telling each other we could do it," said Mazeroski. "All year we've been a fighting, come-from-behind ball club. We always felt we could pull it out -- even after the Yankees tied it up in the ninth -- but I didn't think I'd be the guy to do it."
Even Kiki Cuyler's double in the rain in the eighth inning at Forbes Field in 1925 probably didn't touch off such celebrating among players and fans alike.
After the game, the exuberant Pirates, whooping and hollering, trotted into their clubhouse, there to start a celebration which was to continue for hours.
Mazeroski, son of a coal miner, who died a year and a half ago, had reached the greatest heights in sportdom. Backed against his locker, he answered questions as best he could, but his most audible reply was:
"I was just too happy to think."
Hal Smith, whose three-run sock in the eighth put the Pirates ahead, 9-7, didn't figure he was a hero after Mazeroski came through. There will be many who will disagree with him.
"I finally had a chance to be a hero and then I didn't make it," he said.
Smith was a Yankee farm hand and was due to make the parent team in 1954 until glandular fever ruined his opportunity in spring training.
"I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it," he said, referring to his clout off Jim Coates. "It was a fast ball, low."
"I was just hoping he'd hit one," said Smoky Burgess, who left the game for a pinch runner in the seventh, thereby giving Smith the chance to perform his dramatics. "It didn't matter whether it was him or me."
"It's some kind of happiness," Dick Schofield uttered, picking up Bob Oldis' refrain.
Meanwhile, champagne corks flew, beer cans were emptied -- on heads and down parched throats -- and players and followers kept congratulating each other again and again.
"Face was a victim of some bad bounces," said Manager Dan Murtaugh, "just as we were -- what's the word? -- recipients of a bad bounce."
Murtaugh was referring to the ball that Bill Virdon hit in the eighth which took an unexpected bounce, as though guided by Fate, and hit shortsop Tony Kubek on the chin.
"I was just trying to hit it," said Virdon, "I just wanted to keep from hitting a double play ball. When I hit it, I said, 'Oh heck, it's a double play' -- and I came out smelling like a rose."
As for the ninth inning play on which Rocky Nelson tried to tag out Mickey Mantle as the tying run scored, Murtaugh stated:
"You've got to give Mantle a lot of credit for evading the tag. Even if Rocky would have got him I think the run would have scored.
"I thought Rock made a helluva play. I thought it was a two base hit all the way."
"This has been an odd series," he added. "They broke all those records and here the team that wins the seventh game wins the series.
"Smith's homer gave the bench a big lift. Sure we expected to win (after the Yanks went in front, 7-4). There's always an expectancy on our bench."
First Published October 13, 2010 12:00 am