Game Seven of the 1960 World Series: a contemporaneous account


Who says you don’t get anything good via the regular old U.S. Mail these days?  I just got a great letter. It just so happened to be written in 1960. At least originally. Its author — the mother of one of my close friends — transcribed it for me and sent it my way.

The date: October 13, 1960.  The author: Judi, a nice retired grandmother now, but then a student at Pitt.  Now, as then, she was a baseball fan.  The letter was written to her parents right after she got home from watching Bill Mazeroski hit the most famous home run in World Series history.  I won’t reproduce it all, but it starts out with a bang:

“You will never guess where I have just been. To the last and most exciting World Series game!”

The letter describes the spur of the moment decision — “it wasn’t too hard a decision to make” — to wait in a line for standing-room-only tickets. She and two friends took turns waiting in the line that queued up at 9PM the previous night until noon on the day of the game, relieving each other to go to morning classes and the like. They got their tickets: “$4.40 for standing room! I think that is terrible, but I was happy to go.”

Once the gates opened, Judi and her friends had to run — literally run — to find a good place to stand in Forbes Field.  They made it directly behind home plate. Which, given how you can barely loiter down the baselines at minor league games these days, seems incredible to me.  Today, standing in the aisle behind the plate during the World Series would likely get you sent to Guantanamo.  In Yankee Stadium it would mean summary execution.

The game: “perfectly fabulous.”  Judi kept score, and enclosed the scorecard in the original letter to her parents. She said “I missed some of the pitchers, etc., because people were yelling so loud, and I forgot whether right field was 7 or 9.”  She had to explain to her companions — two male math majors who obviously didn’t know much about baseball — why, if such a beast as “pinch hitting” were allowed, Casey Stengel couldn’t just have Mickey Mantle bat every single time. Judi didn’t mind, however, because she enjoyed being “the expert,” for a change, and schooling these young men on baseball was a lot of fun.

At this point I’m going to risk both my marriage and my friendship with Judi’s three children to say that if I found a woman like her when I was a-courtin’, I probably would have proposed to her on the spot.  But I digress. Let’s cut to the best passage of the letter:

“So many times we were perfectly jubilant and so many times really sad, and yet, in the end, I was so weak I could hardly scream. As we went out of the ballpark there was Benny Benack and the Boys really whooping it up . . . the streets were full of happy people, and horns have been blowing from the minute the game was over until right now (7:00 p.m.).  I imagine it will go on all night.”

Mazeroski’s home run itself got a basic description, most notable because “he had to fight his way to home plate due to all of the fans on the field.”  But the description of the crowds, the city and the campus — where students feared that the Cathedral of Learning would tip to the Forbes Field side because so many people were watching out the windows all week — went on and on, with great warmth.

Community. Passion. Shared experiences. Infectious enthusiasm. It’s easy to forget sometimes, but there’s a lot more to the game than the game itself. Even when it’s one of the greatest games ever.

Thanks for sharing, Judi!

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.