Last night, MLB Network showed the entire Game 7 of the 1960 World Series between the Yankees and the Pirates at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The tape of the game was thought to be destroyed but was found in a canister in Bing Crosby's basement.
The legendary entertainer, who died in 1977, was a part-owner of the Pirates from 1946 until his death. Crosby was in Paris at the time of Game 7 and had someone furnish him with a tape of the game. Crosby watched the game in his California home then stuck the tape, with the rest of the tapes he had of TV specials, movies and music, in his basement where it stayed until its discovery.
At my palatial Denver estate, I watched the game with Casey Bloyer, Justin Adams and Ed Henderson, three guys who love baseball and appreciate the game's magnificent history and significance.
We were all dazzled.
MLB Network screened the game at a theatre in Pittsburgh and had former Pirates in attendance, including Bill Virdon, Dick Groat, Hal Smith and Vernon Law. The Yankees were represented by Bobby Richardson, who you could tell was still miffed at losing the game, although he was very gracious. Richardson was the series MVP despite being on the losing team.
The interesting thing is none of the players ever saw the game. They played in it. Other than a few news reel highlights, they had never watched the game.
Bob Costas was the host and proved, once again, that he might be the greatest broadcaster ever. Not just sports broadcasting, I'm talking the entire realm of broadcasting. The guy was absolutely phenomenal.
Costas, at one break, asked Groat about a ball hit up the middle by Mickey Mantle that got past Groat behind second base. Had Groat come up with the ball, they might have gotten a force at second but he failed to smother the ball and it went into centerfield for a single. Groat, after sarcastically thanking Costas for bringing it up, admitted that the play has haunted him for the past 50-years!
It was fun watching a game that was played in Forbes Field, a classic ballpark built in 1909. While it looked like a great park on TV with some really great seats, I was astounded by what looked to be an awful lot of poor seats as well. There were plenty of obstructed view seats at Forbes Field.
The TV telecast was pretty minimal and spartan compared to today and guess what? I liked it. There were no color commentators. Just Bob Prince, the Pirates announcer for a few innings then Mel Allen the Yankees announcer took over and worked solo.
Graphics were hardly used. Just a simple white graphic in block lettering to identify a player. When the linescore needed to be shown, they would simply show the manual scoreboard in left-field. There were no jumbotrons or revolving billboards behind home plate. It was simple and beautiful.
The field itself though was pretty rough and beaten up from a full-season of games. Groundskeepers today would be mortified if their field was in that kind of shape. Even the outfield was rough. Groundskeeping has come a long way for sure. Groat remarked how bad the field looked and he was glad. After all, a bad hop that hit Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek in the throat in the 8th inning thus preventing a sure double-play opened the floodgates for the Pirates 5-run uprising.
And of course we saw Bill Mazeroski's home run to win it for the Pirates in the 9th. The interesting thing about that is we've seen the highlight a million times. However, the vantage we've seen is always from the behind home plate. The actual tv telecast showed Mazeroski's home run from the centerfield camera.
Another weird thing to the broadcast was there were no replays. It wasn't invented yet. The first replay occurred during an Army-Navy football game a few years later. So if you missed something you couldn't wait for the replay to bail you out. You had to pay attention.
Mazeroski unfortunately was not at the theater for the screening. He was ill and couldn't attend. But Costas alerted us in a post-screening update, that he was out of the hospital and feeling fine.
I must point out that despite knowing the outcome, Casey and I were rooting for the Yankees. I guess it's in our blood. We got so caught up in the game, and a wild game it was, that we forgot that the Pirates won and no amount of rooting or hoping would change that.
Finally, the post-game show was hysterical. They went to Bob Prince in the Pirates clubhouse and he was interviewing Pirates players and executives. Wearing the ugliest sportcoat ever, Prince was literally grabbing guys by the shoulder as they walked by the small elevated stage. He would ask a question and as they were answering he would grab another player while pushing the previous player off the stage when they finished speaking. It was frantic, it was crazy and wildly entertaining.
MLB Network will be replaying the broadcast. You must watch it if you haven't seen it. And if you have seen it you must watch it again. And again. I will.
October 13, 1960...revisited last night. Surreal stuff.