After finishing a distant third in the American League the previous year with their worst record since 1925, the Yankees knew they needed to do something significant if they wished to return to the top of the standings in 1960. To that end, they worked out a seven-player deal with the Kansas City Athletics on December 11 that netted them outfielder Roger Maris and two lesser players for veterans Hank Bauer and Don Larsen, and youngsters Norm Siebern and Marv Throneberry. The lopsided trade turned out to be exactly what the Yankees needed to restore themselves to prominence in the American League.
The Yankees actually had their eyes on the 25-year-old Maris for quite some time. After being traded from Cleveland to Kansas City midway through the 1958 campaign, Maris earned All-Star honors for the first time with the Athletics the following year. The left-handed hitting Maris had a short, compact swing that made him a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium, and New York brass believed he would prove to be an outstanding complement to Mickey Mantle in the middle of the batting order.
With Maris in the fold, New York cruised to the American League pennant, finishing the regular season with a record of 97-57, eight games ahead of the second-place Baltimore Orioles. New York’s rejuvenated offense finished first in the league with 746 runs scored, while the pitching staff tied for the league-lead with a team ERA of 3.52. Although no Yankee hurler won more than 15 games, each member of the starting rotation contributed significantly to the success of the team. Art Ditmar led the starters with 15 victories and a 3.06 ERA. Second-year right-hander Jim Coates posted an exceptional 13-3 record. Whitey Ford experienced something of an off-year, winning only 12 games. Nevertheless, he placed among the league leaders with a 3.08 ERA and remained the team’s most reliable pitcher. Bob Turley rebounded from his subpar 1959 season by compiling a record of 9-3. And 24-year-old right-hander Ralph Terry won 10 games.
The Yankee starting lineup was buoyed by the return of Bill Skowron to full health. After missing most of the second half of the 1959 season with a fractured wrist, Skowron hit 26 home runs, knocked in 91 runs, and led the team with a .309 batting average. Tony Kubek had another solid year, batting .273, scoring 77 runs, and establishing career highs with 14 homers and 62 RBIs, en route to earning an 11th-place finish in the league MVP voting. The two men who stood out, though, as the driving forces behind New York’s successful pennant run were Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Mantle batted .275, knocked in 94 runs, placed among the league leaders with a .402 on-base percentage and a .558 slugging percentage, and topped the circuit with 40 home runs, 119 runs scored, and 294 total bases. Maris batted .283, led the league with 112 runs batted in and a .581 slugging percentage, and finished second to Mantle with 39 homers, 98 runs scored, and 290 total bases. Maris earned A.L. MVP honors and a Gold Glove for his outstanding defensive play in right field. Mantle finished a close second to his teammate in the league MVP voting. Both men were named to the American League All-Star Team. They were joined on the squad by fellow Yankees Skowron, Berra, Howard, Coates, and Ford. Maris and Skowron also earned spots on The Sporting News All-Star Team.
The Yankees subsequently faced the Pittsburgh Pirates in what turned out to be one of the most unusual World Series in history. The Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27 during the Fall Classic, winning the three games they won by a combined margin of 38-3. New York second baseman Bobby Richardson, who hit just one home run and drove in only 26 runs during the regular season, hit a homer, tripled twice, knocked in 12 runs, and batted .367, en route to becoming the only losing player ever to be named Series MVP. Pittsburgh finally prevailed in a wild Game Seven when Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off home run against New York’s Ralph Terry. The Pirates won the contest by a score of 10-9, thereby denying the Yankees their 19th world championship. Casey Stengel subsequently received a great deal of criticism for electing to start Whitey Ford in Games Three and Six, leaving New York’s best pitcher unavailable to take the ball for the decisive seventh contest. Ford, who shut out the Pirates in each of his two starts, later stated he never forgave Stengel for misusing him in that manner. Neither did team ownership, which relieved the manager of his duties following the loss. Also dismissed was General Manager George Weiss. Both men eventually landed jobs with the expansion New York Mets.
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- 1960 World Series, Art Ditmar, Bill Mazeroski, Bill Skowron, Bob Turley, Bobby Richardson, Casey Stengel, Clete Boyer, Don Larsen, Elston Howard, George Weiss, Hank Bauer, Jim Coates, Marv Throneberry, Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees, Norm Siebern, Pittsburgh Pirates, Ralph Houk, Ralph Terry, Roger Maris, Tony Kubek, Yogi Berra