After finishing a distant third in the American League in 1959 with only 79 victories (their lowest win total in 34 years), the Yankees completed a trade with the Kansas City Athletics during the subsequent off-season that netted them slugging outfielder Roger Maris. The addition of Maris helped rejuvenate New York’s offense, enabling them to return to the top of the A.L. standings in 1960, with a record of 97-57. The Baltimore Orioles finished second in the junior circuit, eight games behind the pennant winners.
Maris teamed up with Mickey Mantle to give the Yankees the American League’s most formidable one-two punch. 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. Meanwhile, 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. The members of the BBWAA acknowledged Maris’ contributions to the Yankees by naming him the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Mantle finished a close second to his teammate in the balloting.
Still, New York was more than just a two-man team. The Yankee offense led the league with 746 runs scored, while the club’s 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. Jim Coates posted an exceptional 13-3 record, while Bob Turley finished 9-3. 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.
Bill Skowron and Tony Kubek ably assisted Maris and Mantle on offense. Skowron finished third on the team with 26 home runs and 91 runs batted in, and he led the club with a .309 batting average. Kubek batted .273, scored 77 runs, and established career highs with 14 homers and 62 RBIs, en route to earning an 11th-place finish in the league MVP voting. In all, seven Yankee players earned spots on the American League All-Star Team.
Although the Pittsburgh Pirates were not quite as talented as the Yankees, they managed to capture their first National League pennant in 33 years by topping the senior circuit with a record of 95-59. They finished seven games ahead of the second-place Milwaukee Braves. The Pirates clearly lacked the household names of the players that littered the Yankee roster. Yet they led the National League with 734 runs scored and finished third in the senior circuit with a team ERA of 3.49.
Cy Young Award winner Vernon Law headed Pittsburgh’s pitching staff. Law finished the campaign with a record of 20-9, a 3.08 ERA, and 18 complete games. Bob Friend joined Law at the top of the starting rotation, winning 18 games, compiling a 3.00 ERA, throwing 16 complete games, and leading the club with four shutouts and 276 innings pitched. Ace reliever Elroy Face won 10 games and saved 24 others.
On offense, the Pirates were led by the trio of Don Hoak, Roberto Clemente, and Dick Groat. Third baseman Hoak hit 16 homers, drove in 79 runs, batted .282, and led the team with 97 runs scored. In his breakout season, Clemente hit 16 home runs, knocked in 94 runs, scored 89 others, and batted .314. Shortstop Groat earned league MVP honors by topping the circuit with a .325 batting average, while also teaming up with second baseman Bill Mazeroski to give the Pirates the senior circuit’s best double play combination.
Nevertheless, the Pirates entered the World Series as heavy underdogs to the Yankees. Roger Maris got New York off to a good start in the top of the first inning of Game One with a solo home run off Law. But the Pirates scored three runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame, knocking out Yankee starter Art Ditmar in the process. Pittsburgh went on to score three more times, en route to posting a 6-4 victory. Law got the win, with help from Face, who replaced the Pirates starter in the eighth inning.
The Yankees rebounded in Game Two, clobbering six Pirate pitchers for 16 runs and 19 hits during a 16-3 win. Bob Turley got the win for New York, with Mickey Mantle hitting two mammoth home runs and driving in five runs.
The Yankees continued their hot hitting when the Series moved to New York for Game Three, going through another six Pirate pitchers en route to taking a 2-1 lead in games with a 10-0 victory. Whitey Ford shut out Pittsburgh on just four hits, Mantle homered again, and Bobby Richardson established a new World Series record by knocking in six runs, with a grand slam and a single.
Vernon Law slowed down the Yankee bats in Game Four, combining with Elroy Face to limit New York to just two runs and eight hits during a 3-2 Pirates win. The Pirates won again the next day, going up one game in the Series with a 5-2 victory. Harvey Haddix worked seven strong innings, before being replaced by Face in the eighth. The win gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead in the Series heading back to Pittsburgh for the final two contests.
New York showed that the Series was far from over when the two teams met again at Forbes Field two days later. The Yankees scored 12 times and collected 17 hits as they evened the Fall Classic at three games apiece with a 12-0 victory. Whitey Ford tossed his second shutout of the Series and Bobby Richardson drove in three runs with two triples, establishing in the process another Series record by knocking in a total of 12 runs.
Game Seven proved to be a wild, see-saw affair that featured several shifts in momentum. The Pirates jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but the Yankees scored seven unanswered runs to take a 7-4 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. A bad-hop grounder on what appeared to be a certain double play ball struck shortstop Tony Kubek in the throat, leading to a five-run Pittsburgh rally in the bottom of the eighth. However, the Yankees countered with two runs of their own in the top of the ninth, to tie the score at 9-9 heading into the bottom half of the inning. Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski then delivered one of the most famous blows in baseball history, hitting Ralph Terry’s second pitch of the inning over the left field wall to give Pittsburgh its first world championship since 1925.
The 10-9 victory gave the Pirates the world championship even though the Yankees outscored them during the Fall Classic by a combined margin of 55-27. In one of the strangest World Series ever, New York won its three games by scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0, while the Pirates posted all four of their victories by three runs or less. The Yankees out-homered the Pirates, 10-4, out-hit them, 91-60, and compiled a team batting average of .338, to Pittsburgh’s mark of .256. Elston Howard batted .462 for New York, Mickey Mantle batted .400, hit three homers, and drove in 11 runs, and Bobby Richardson, who hit just one home run and knocked 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.
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 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 Friend, Bob Turley, Bobby Richardson, Casey Stengel, Dick Groat, Don Hoak, Elroy Face, Elston Howard, Forbes Field, George Weiss, Harvey Haddix, Jim Coates, Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Ralph Terry, Roberto Clemente, Roger Maris, Tony Kubek, Vern Law, Whitey Ford, Yankee Stadium, Yogi Berra