This piece by Paul Blackburn provides an abridged look at Game 7 of the 1960 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Living in New York, he describes the experience of Yankees fans, and there is something almost mystical about the City That Never Sleeps quieting down for a baseball game. I imagine that silence must have continued for a few days after that blast by Bill Mazeroski, the only winner-take-all walk-off home run in World Series history.
The New York Mets won their first franchise game on April 23, 1962, their tenth game of the season. Jay Hook pitched a five-hit complete game as the Mets defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-1, at Forbes Field. What’s more, they also broke the Pirates’ ten-game win streak with the victory.
On August 22, 1917, Pirates’ outfielder Carson Bigbee set a major league record with eleven at-bats in a single game as the Pirates and Dodgers squared off for twenty-two innings. It is a record that has since been tied by thirteen others, but never broken.
The author, Charles Ghigna, was kind enough to send this piece my way a while back. It’s one of those ‘what if’ types of pieces that we can all relate to on some level. I’m impressed that he managed to garner an invitation to spring training to try out; it’s a shame it didn’t work out for him.
Like many kids of the 1950s, I loved baseball.
I played on teams throughout my youth and in 1964
I received an invitation to spring training camp
for a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I’m still waiting to hear from them.
In the meantime, I’ve been writing a few poems…
I may have lost a step or two,
(Or four, or six, or eight).
My bat speed may have slowed a bit,
(Much like a rusty gate).
My fastball may have lost some pop,
My slider may have slid,
But when I dream of baseball,
I become a kid.
A glint of steel in my young stare,
Swagger in my stride,
I saunter to the plate
With confidence and pride.
A fastball down the middle,
I swing with all my might,
Old Rawlings soars past the crowd
And deep into the night.
There I am in summer’s glow
Warmed by hometown cheers,
Rounding third and striding home,
Back to my boyhood years.
Suddenly I’m sixty-nine
Asleep in winter’s sun,
Dreaming of what might have been
When I was twenty-one.
Still I wait to take the call,
To hear them say my name,
An old man dreaming of the day
He played a young man’s game.
Babe Adams of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched an entire 21-inning game without issuing a single walk on July 17, 1914. It was the longest game pitched by a single pitcher in big league history in which that pitcher did not concede a base-on-balls. In the top of the 21st inning, Larry Doyle’s home run proved the deciding hit, giving the New York Giants the 3-1 victory. Rube Marquard of the Giants, who also went the distance in the game, allowed only two walks and gained the victory.
Poking around at some Library of Congress photos, I encountered the photograph below. In it, we see Vince DiMaggio sliding into home as George Stovall signals “safe.” The picture was taken in February 1943, during the off-season when DiMaggio had worked in the California Shipbuilding Corporation shipyards since the previous fall. George Stovall was a former Cleveland Indians manager and had been working in the shipyards as a checker for over a year at the time of this photo. I’m curious as to where the rest of the playing field is, in relation to the action in this picture — it’s difficult to discern. Nevertheless, I do enjoy what this photo represents: a culture in which a love for baseball runs so deep that these men take advantage of every moment they can to indulge in a quick pick-up game.