In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
In the most dramatic moment in World Series history, Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a walk-off home run in the ninth inning of Game 7 to beat the New York Yankees 10-9. It was statistically the oddest World Series, as the Pirates won four close games, while the Yankees won three blowouts. Despite losing the series, the Yankees scored a record 55 runs, outscoring Pittsburgh 55-27.
A new decade began, and the New York Yankees were back in the Fall Classic. After a mediocre 1959 season, the Yankees seemed rejuvenated with the acquisition of Roger Maris from the Kansas City Athletics. Maris hit 39 home runs, and edged teammate Mickey Mantle by thee votes to win the American League MVP. The Yankees, managed by Casey Stengel since 1949, were in the World Series for the tenth time in 12 seasons, seeking an eighth World Championship after a 97-57 season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were the decided underdog in the World Series. They had won the 1909 and 1925 World Series but were swept by the Yankees in 1927. Over the next 30 seasons, the Pirates drifted in the dark waters of the second division. Managed by Danny Murtaugh, the Pirates won the National League with a record of 95-59 as Dick Groat won the MVP, and Vern Law won the Cy Young Award, then only given on to one player across the major leagues.
The World Series began at Forbes Field with Vern Law getting the start for Pittsburgh as Art Ditmar started for the Yankees. Roger Maris gave the Yankees an early lead with a first-inning home run. The Pirates responded with three runs in the bottom for the first as Ditmar was relived after retiring just one batter. The three runs Pittsburgh scored came off the bats of Dick Groat, Bob Skinner, and Roberto Clemente. After the Yankees got a run in the fourth inning, the Pirates again answered with more runs as Bill Mazeroski hit a two-run home run. Mazeroski scored a run in the sixth on a double by Bill Virdon, giving the Pirates a 6-2 lead. Against reliever Elroy Face, the Yankees got two runs from a home run by Elston Howard in the ninth, but came up short, losing 6-4.
Bob Turley opposed Bob Field in Game 2, as the Yankees looked to even the series. The Yankees scored first, as Tony Kubek and Gil McDougald each drove in a run in the third. In the fourth, Turley aided his own cause to make it 3-0. Don Hoak drove in a run in the fourth to get the Pirates on the board. Mickey Mantle hit a two-run homer in the fifth as the Yankees blew the game open with seven runs in the sixth. It was not about power. It was about hits, as Elston Howard and Bobby Richardson each had two hits in the inning as the Yankees built a 12-1 lead. Mantle homered again in the seventh to stretch the lead to 15-1. The Yankees added one more run on a wild pitch in the ninth, winning 16-3.
As the series shifted to Yankee Stadium, the Yankees had Whitey Ford on the mound in Game 3, while Vinegar Bend Mizell started for the Pirates. The Yankees continued to pound the Pirates, scoring six runs in the first inning, led by a grand slam by Elston Howard, as the Pirates used three pitchers. The Yankees added four runs in the fourth with Mantle hitting his third home run of the series, while Bobby Richardson drove in a pair with a single. The Yankees would win the game 10-0 as Ford had a four-hit shutout.
Vern Law, the winner of Game 1, took the mound, looking to get the Pirates back in the series after losing the previous two games by a combined score of 26-3. Moose Skowron gave New York the lead in the fourth inning with a home run. Law struck a double in the fifth and tied the game, later scoring on a two-run single by Bill Virdon to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead. The Yankees got a run in the seventh, but Elroy Face shut the door, allowing the Pirates to win the3-2 to seven the series at two games apiece.
Art Ditmar started for the Yankees while Harvey Haddix made the start for the Pirates in Game 5. The Pirates roughed up Ditmar again, scoring three runs in the second inning, powered by a Mazeroski double. After the Yankees scratched across a run in the second, Pittsburgh answered with an RBI by Roberto Clemente. Maris homered in the third, but the Yankees would get no closer, losing 5-2 as Elroy Face slammed the door for his third save of the series.
Back in Pittsburgh for Game 6, the Pirates had Bob Friend on the mound seeking to finish off the Yankees. Whitey Ford got the start for the Yankees. Again Ford was dominant, driving in the first run of the game n the second inning. New York broke the game open, in the third, scoring five runs as Bobby Richardson delivered a two-run triple. The Yankees added two runs in the sixth off the bat, Tony Kubek and Yogi Berra. In the seventh, Richardson led to two more runs with a second triple. The Yankees capped the scoring with another two runs in the eighth to take a 12-0 lead, as Whitey Ford again had a complete-game shutout.
In Game 7 at Forbes Field, the Pirates had Vern Law on the mound seeking a third win while Bob Turley started for New York. Rocky Nelson gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead with a home run in the first. In the second, Bill Virdon singled in two runs against Bill Stafford. The Yankees did not get on the board until the fifth inning when Moose Skowron led off with a home. The Pirates brought in Elroy Face in the sixth inning, with two runners on base. Face faltered as he gave up an RBI single to Mickey Mantle. Yogi Berra followed with a three-run home run that gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead. The Yankees got two more runs thanks to Johnny Blanchard and Clete Boyer in the eighth and led 7-4. Facing desperation, the Pirates got a leadoff single by Gino Cimoli. Bill Virdon followed with a shot to short that took a bad hop and hit Tony Kubek in the throat. Jim Coates came in relief as Joe DeMastri took over for Kubek. Dick Groat had an RBI single to make it 7-5. After the next two hitters were retired, Roberto Clemente knocked in a second run, to cut the lead to 7-6. With two outs and the game on the line, Hal Smith hit a three-run shot that gave Pittsburgh a 9-7 lead. Ralph Terry cam in and retired Don Hoak as the game went to the ninth inning.
It was now the Yankees that were desperate down to their last three outs as Bob Friend was on the mound. Bobby Richardson and Dale Long led off the inning with singles, as Harvey Haddix came into the relieve Friend. After Maris popped out, Mantle drove in a run with a single to make it 9-8. With pinch-runner Gil McDougald on third, Yogi Berra hit a grounder to first that tied the game 9-9. Moose Skowron grounded out to end the inning as the drama and tension were high as Terry took the mound looking to get Game 7 into extra innings. Bill Mazeroski, a light-hitting second baseman known for his glove, led off the inning and hit the ball over the left-field fence to kick off an epic celebration as the Pirates won 10-9 and celebrated a World Championship. It was the first time a World Series ended with a home run.
The Pirates won the World Series despite being outscored 55-27 as the Yankees outscored them 38-3 in their three wins, as Bobby Richardson became the first player from a losing team to win World Series MVP. Casey Stengel would be fired after the series, due to the Yankees' mandatory retirement at the age of 70. To which Stengel retorted, I’ll never make the mistake of turning 70 again.