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Game Seven of the 1960 World Series: a contemporaneous account

Sep 29, 2010, 2:57 PM EDT

My friend Judi was at the game and wrote a letter to her parents about it that night. I just got a copy of it, it's great fun, so I'll share.

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!

  1. af16 - Sep 29, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Thanks for sharing that. That was great.
    Also, at first I didn’t understand what you meant in that she “made it directly behind home plate”. Stunning that people were allowed to do that – for $4.40 no less.

  2. Tony A - Sep 29, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    In 1960, $4.40 would fill your gas tank…

  3. joerf - Sep 29, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    My father and I were at the game. We were sitting in a box on the first base side, the tickets were a gift from one of his clients. My dad wasn’t much of a baseball fan but I loved it. Benny Benack was playing “the Bucs are going all the way, all the way this year.” People were singing on the way into the park. My dad wanted to leave because the Yankees were winning in the 8th and I wouldn’t budge so we stayed. I had a coke in one hand and was so excite when Maz came up to bat. When he hit that home run the coke went flying into the air and everyone was screaming and crying. It was one of the top events in my life. I always tell my kids #1 seeing the Beatles, #2 Maz’s homerun, #3 meeting my husband & #4 having them. It was a great day…and night.

  4. RichardInBigD - Sep 29, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    Craig, there are three possible exceptions to your “most famous home run in World Series history” claim, and I think you’ll know what they are before I name them. 1)Thee Called Shot 2)Joe Carter 3)Kirk Gibson. While I appreciate and understand the magnitude of Maz’s feat, I look forward to the debate that is about to begin!

  5. The Real Shuxion - Oct 1, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    Also buy you a fresh Moxie.

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