Down two games to one in the 1960 World Series, Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh turned to Vern Law (20-9, 3.08), his Game 1 starter and the eventual Cy Young award winner that year. Known (like me) as “Deacon,” Law was an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. But his deeply held religious convictions didn’t deter him from pitching inside. Along with Don Drysdale and later Bob Gibson, Law was widely considered the pitcher most likely to knock a batter down.
Law’s religious views did deter him from drinking. Yet, he was injured during the drunken revelry that followed the Pirates’ pennant clinching victory. On the bus trip back to the hotel, several teammates decided it would be fun to bring Law, who had dressed quickly and left the celebratory locker room, into the festivities by removing his shirt. Because Law’s undergarments are considered vestiments of his religion, Law politely objected. At that point they decided to remove his shoes instead. In the process of yanking them off, his ankle was severely twisted.
Law would pitch in pain during the 1960 World Series and then suffer arm injuries after changing his pitching motion to compensate for difficulties pushing off his ankle. However, he has never identified those involved in the horse-play.
Despite the fact that New York’s Game 1 starter Art Ditmar had pitched only a third of an inning in the Series opener (or maybe for that reason), Casey Stengel chose to adhere to his usual practice of using more than three starters in the World Series. He turned to Ralph Terry (10-8 3.40).
Terry set the Pirates down in order in the first inning, but Law ran into immediate difficulty. Bob Cerv led off with a single, and Tony Kubek doubled him to third. But Law finessed his way out of the situation, retiring Roger Maris on a short fly ball, intentionally walking the red-hot Mantle, and inducing Yogi Berra to hit into a double play.
Terry cruised through four innings, giving up no hits and striking out five. Law settled down, but gave up a solo home run to Moose Skowron in the bottom of the fourth.
Gino Cimoli singled to lead off the top of the fifth, and was safe at second on a fielder’s choice, with Smokey Burgess reaching first. But Terry set down Don Hoak and Bill Mazeroski, and needed only to retire Law to escape the inning. However, Law doubled and Bill Virdon followed with a single to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead.
Law took that lead into the bottom of the seventh, but by then the pain in his ankle was almost unbearable. Skowron led off the inning with a double and Gil McDougald singled him to third.
Bobby Richardson, who already had two more hits on his way to a record-setting Series, was next. Murtaugh stayed with his ailing pitcher. Richardson hit a ground ball to second base. Mazeroski, one of the all-time great turners of the double-play, stepped on the base but then had trouble getting the ball out of his glove. Richardson, the potential tying run, beat Maz’s throw to first as Skowron scored to make it 3-2.
Next up was the hard-hitting pinch-batter, Johnny Blanchard. He singled Richardson to second.
Murtaugh finally pulled Law and brought in bullpen ace Roy Face. Law, who limped off the mound, later said that, although his arm was strong enough to pitch 18 innings, “the leg was beginning to pain me something awful and I’m glad Face was ready to do the job.”
But Cerv promptly smashed a Face fork-ball to deep right-center. In the key play of game, Virdon made a spectacular leaping catch, before crashing into the fence. (One the top center-fielders of his era, Virdon had made a similar play in the first game). Both runners advanced, but no one scored.
Face then got Kubek on a ground ball back to the mound. Six uneventful outs later, the Pirates had won 3-2, and the Series was tied at two games apiece.
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