Saturday, July 24, 2010

PTWSW #57: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates

Manager: Danny Murtaugh
Record: 95-59
Ballpark: Forbes Field
Owners: John W. Galbreath, Tom Johnson & Bing Crosby
GM: Joe L. Brown
Coaches: Bill Burwell, Len Levy, Sam Narron, Frank Oceak, George Sisler, Virgil Trucks, Mickey Vernon

Future Hall of Famers: Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski

All-Stars: Smoky Burgess, Roberto Clemente, Roy Face, Bob Friend, Dick Groat, Vern Law, Bill Mazeroski, Bob Skinner

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Dick Groat, .325 (NL leader)
OBP: Dick Groat, .371
SLG: Dick Stuart, .479
OPS: Roberto Clemente, .815
2B: Bob Skinner, 33
3B: Don Hoak, Bill Virdon, 9
HR: Dick Stuart, 23
RBI: Roberto Clemente, 94
BB: Don Hoak, 74
SB: Bob Skinner, 11

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Vern Law, 20
SO: Bob Friend, 183
ERA: Bob Friend, 3.00
IP: Bob Friend, 275.2
CG: Vern Law, 18 (NL leader)
SHO: Bob Friend, 4
K/BB: Bob Friend, 4.07 (NL leader)
SV: Roy Face, 24

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Mickey Vernon (b. April 22, 1918). Vernon was actually a coach who the team activated late in the season. If you don't want to count him it was Diomedes Olivo (b. January 22, 1919), a 41-year-old rookie who was called up in September and stayed with the team as a batting practice pitcher for the World Series. Among regular players it was Rocky Nelson (b. November 18, 1924).

Youngest Player: Bill Mazeroski (b. September 5, 1936)

First to Leave Us: Jim Umbricht (d. April 8, 1964). Umbricht was only 33 when he succumbed to cancer, and the Colt .45's (his team at the time) retired uniform number 32 in his honor.

Last Survivor: Fifteen are still living as of December 27, 2015.

First in Majors: Mickey Vernon (debut July 8, 1939)

Last in Majors: Bill Mazeroski was the last to play in a regular-season game (October 4, 1972), but Roberto Clemente's final game came in the Playoffs that same year on October 11.

First to Play For the Franchise: Vern Law (June 11, 1950)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Roberto Clemente (October 11, 1972)

Pre-union Team: The 1956 St. Louis Cardinals had five: Harvey Haddix, Vinegar Bend Mizell, Rocky Nelson, Dick Schofield and Bill Virdon.

Reunion Team: The 1961-62 Washington Senators (Harry Bright, Tom Cheney, Bennie Daniels, Fred Green (1962) and R C Stevens (1961)) and 1962 Houston Colt .45's (Roman Mejias, Hal Smith, Jim Umbricht and George Witt) had four each. Interestingly, the 1962 New York Mets also had a significant number, with three (Joe Christopher, Clem Labine and Vinegar Bend Mizell). It's a shame the 1961 Los Angeles Angels didn't get in on the act.

Accomplishments

Dick Groat, NL MVP
Vern Law, Cy Young Award
Harvey Haddix, NL Pitcher Gold Glove
Bill Mazeroski, NL Second Base Gold Glove
Dick Groat, six-hit game on May 13

Season Summary

1960 was the year Pittsburgh went crazy for the Pirates. After 33 years without a pennant, "Beat Em, Bucs" became a rallying cry around the Steel City, as the Pirates were never out of first place after May 28. The Buccos were a scrappy team of contact hitters who led the league in both batting and on-base average by eleven points. They were only sixth in home runs, but they still packed a punch, as they were tops in doubles and second in triples. You might think a team like this used speed as a weapon; in fact, the Pirates were last in both stolen bases and stolen base attempts. It may actually have helped them, given the poor success rates of the time. Their pitching staff mostly pitched to contact, and with the league's best defense behind them (38 TZ) Pirate hurlers posted the third-best ERA+ in the National League.

The player who best personified this crew was shortstop Dick Groat. He won the batting title with a .325 average while serving as team captain and playing great defense. In early September a Lew Burdette slider got away and fractured Groat's left wrist, sidelining him for the rest of the month. The Pirates had a seven-game lead at the time, but some observers wondered if the surprising Bucs' luck had finally run out. It hadn't. The Pirates never missed a beat with the hot-hitting Dick Schofield filling in for the final month, and Groat was able to return in time for the last two games of the regular season.

Game 1 of the World Series took place at Forbes Field, and the Pirates' opponent was the same as the last World Series game held there: the New York Yankees. Many experts picked the Yankees to win, but the Bucs had other plans. Behind 20-game winner Vern Law the Pirates took Game 1 by a score of 6-4. Before they knew it though, the Yankees had bounced back to win Games 2 and 3 in double-digit blowouts. Never to be discouraged, the Pirates won Game 4 behind Law again, and then Game 5 behind Harvey Haddix. They were now back home needing only one win to take the Series. The Yankees, however, administered yet another double-digit blowout to send it to Game 7.

Game 7 was one of baseball's greatest slugfests. With Law going again, the Pirates got out to an early 4-0 lead. The Yankee offense came to life in the fifth though, and by the middle of the eighth the Bombers were in control, 7-4. The Pirates then put together a huge five-run inning, the biggest blow being Hal Smith's go-ahead three-run homer. The Pirates were now up by two runs and three outs away from victory, but Pittsburgh pulses started racing again when the Yanks tied it in the top of the ninth. Leading off the bottom of the ninth was young Bill Mazeroski, an outstanding defensive second baseman who wasn't known for his hitting. The second pitch of the inning would make his bat famous though, as he hit a home run to deep left field which won the game and the Series for the Pirates.

The World Series MVP was given to Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson for his 12 RBI in the seven games. That was small potatoes though, compared to the National League MVP trophy given to Dick Groat the next month.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

2 comments:

  1. WOW...I remember all those guys. Go Bucs!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I read it again and it brought back GREAT MEMORIES!

    ReplyDelete