1960: “Dreaming of the World Series… Too soon, you say?”
It’s not done yet. The story hasn’t played out. At least not until tonight, until a decisive game between the Pirates and the Cardinals in St. Louis is over. Tonight is going to be INTENSE. To paraphrase the great Red Smith, only when the utterly impossible becomes plausible — and that utterly impossible until recently was the Pittsburgh team in the playoffs — the impossible dream somehow becomes real.
Soooo… How about the World Series? Can’t we dream big? How about a shared dream of becoming the World Champs of 2013? The Pirates did it in October of 1960… Queue up the replay:
A crowd of 36,683 fans packed Forbes Field in Oakland on Oct.13, 1960, most of them were there to pull for the Buccos, others came to cheer on the Yankees. “It was odd watching nattily dressed businessmen lugging briefcases scrounge for seats in the left bleachers, traditionally the home of shirt-sleeved millworkers and truck drivers,” one Post-Gazette reporter wrote. Before the game, the mood was gloomy. One police officer observed, “It looks like they are scared. Everybody’s in a daze.” People were so quiet that one woman worker at Forbes Field quoted, in The Pittsburgh Press, pointed out that fans must have been afraid to get excited. “But we’ll be here after the game and they’ll be excited then,” she said. And she was right.
Lots of laughing and dancing happened at Forbes Field that day, joyful victory cries echoed all across Pittsburgh from Oakland to Downtown. “A Pittsburgh celebration that was 35 years in the making erupted in Forbes Field. It was V.E. Day, V.J. Day, New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July all rolled up in one.
"Any drama and excitement unexhibited in the first six games was packed into the end of the seventh when the Pirates beat the Yankees with their own weapon — the home run — to win the first World Championship for the Bucs since 1925," the Post-Gazette reported.
"The celebration got under way at home plate even before Mazeroski has rounded second base. Roberto Clemente leaped high into the air, a dusky Nijinski performing an impromptu ballet. As Mazeroski came home, Clemente and the other Pirates pummeled him. Fans surged onto the field and surrounded the Pirates dugout before police could form lines to stop them."
"With the crack of Mazeroski’s bat, the problems of the world were forgotten. Khrushchev became a noisy, little bore. Ballistic missiles didn’t have the power of a baseball bat. And the recession took a recess."
"The Yankees disappeared from the dugout so fast you’d have thought it was radioactive. There is nothing more devastatingly final than a home run ending a ball game in the last of the ninth."
There was confetti on Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street soon after the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Championship. The city went wild. “The intersection, normally one of the busiest in the city, still never had seen such bedlam as Pittsburghers cut loose …” The Pittsburgh Press reported.
They did it in 1960, they did it again in 1971 and then again in 1979. Can the Buccos make it happen 34 years later? The World Series goal is still very far, but we shall see tonight whether the dream is even attainable in this unforgettable season.
— Mila Sanina
(Top photo: Gov. Lawrence, a loyal Bucco fan and a season ticket holder for many years, displays his exuberance at the Pirates’ 1960 World Series victory over the New York Yankees. Courtesy: Anna Mae Donahoe)