The 1960 World Series is by far the best-remembered Fall Classic of its era. It is remembered mostly because the Seventh Game was arguably the most dramatic game in the history of the sport. But the Series is also remembered for its quirkiness. At some point in the upcoming post-season a commentator will probably remind his audience how, in 1960, the Yankees crushed the Pirates in three games (by scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0), while the Pirates edged the Yanks in the other four games (6-4, 3-2, 5-2, and 10-9).
The Pirates and Yankees were, in fact, evenly matched. During the regular season, New York had won 97 games; Pittsburgh 95. New York had outscored its American League opponents by 119 runs; Pittsburgh had outscored National League opposition by 141.
Since Pittsburgh had a slightly better run differential playing in a better league, if anything the Bucs should have been slight favorites in the Series. Instead, the Yankees were heavily favored, given their fearsome reputation and the Pirates’ image as upstarts. As recently as 1957, Pittsburgh had finished tied for last place with only 62 wins.
Game 1 took place 50 years ago today (October 5). Pittsburgh started its ace, 20-game winner Vern Law. New York went with Art Ditmar, a 15-game winner whose 3.06 ERA was nearly identical to Law’s.
Ditmar was only able to retire one batter before being chased in the bottom of the first inning, when RBI hits by Dick Groat, Bob Skinner, and Roberto Clemente staked the Pirates to a 3-1 lead. They added two more in the fourth (on a Bill Mazeroski home run) and one in the sixth, and took a 6-2 lead into the eighth inning.
Law had already given up eight hits by then, and two more (by Hector Lopez and Roger Maris) sent him to the showers. But ace reliever Elroy Face came on to retire Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Bill Skowron. Mantle and Skowron both struck out.
In the Yankee ninth, pinch-hitter Elston Howard hit a two-run homer with one out, and Tony Kubek followed with a single. But Lopez then grounded into a double-play to end the game.
The Yankees had outhit the Pirates (as they would in six of the seven games) 13-8, but to no avail.
The Pirates had won their first World Series game since 1925, and had already accomplished what they could not do in 1927 – take a Series game from the Yankees.
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