Golden memories of the diamond

Big baseball anniversaries; not-so-E-Z pass; remebering Jimbo
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  September 29, 2010

We know the vast majority of Cool, Cool World readers do not have a personal memory of life on the planet earth, circa 1960, as they were not yet born. It is P+J's sad duty to note that not only were we alive but firmly entrenched in the far corners of our respective 5th-grade classrooms, cylindrical caps worn rakishly on our pointed little noggins.

Indeed, we do have memories of those times and, like most people, we have a tendency to remember our early years as particularly momentous times. But, in the matters we are about to recall, that would be pretty accurate.

Like many 10-year-old boys, we were drawn to the then-undisputed American Pastime, baseball. Unfortunately for us, the home teams we were root, root, rooting for were especially hapless. Phillipe's team, the Phillies, finished in the National League cellar, with Jorge's Red Sox doing only marginally better, finishing seventh in the American League thanks to the even more hapless Kansas City Athletics. Remember, these were the days when Major League Baseball consisted of two leagues, eight teams in each league, no divisions, no multiple championship series, just the World Series featuring the National and American League winners.

But 50 years ago this autumn, there were two incredible baseball moments that any young baseball-mad kid around at the time will never forget. On September 28, 1960, on an overcast and rather ugly day, Ted Williams strode to the plate in front of a half-filled Fenway Park for the last at bat of his career and knocked the ball into the right field stands. Jorge was listening on the Philco (one of those old radios designed as a piece of furniture) in the living room. This sealed Jorge's opinion of Ted as a God-like figure.

Two-and-a half weeks later, the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, pitting the heavily favored New York Yankees against the Pittsburgh Pirates, was played at Forbes Field. We, of course, raced home to watch the final innings of the contest. Game 7 was an incredible back and forth battle. Jorge remembers Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek being hit in the Adam's apple by a ground ball and having to leave the game. And then there was Bill Mazeroski's home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. This is the most dramatic moment Jorge has ever witnessed in a baseball game (and yes, that includes Pudge Fisk pushing that ball fair over the Monster in '75). A lot of people think that it was the greatest game ever played (and they're not all from western Pennsylvania). They have a statue of Mazeroski outside PNC Park, the Pirates' current home field.

Last week, it was reported that a 16mm film of this game was found in the wine cellar of Bing Crosby's old home. Crosby, a co-owner of the Pirates, had the game put on film because he couldn't bear to watch it live. In fact, he couldn't even bear to be in the country when the game was being played and listened to it on a shortwave radio from France when Mazeroski hit the home run. This is big because no one has seen the game since it was aired live on NBC in 1960. Archiving ballgames or entertainment was not a serious consideration back then. That's why the first few years of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show are lost to history. Thank you, Bing, we can't wait to see the 50-year-old broadcast.

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