Mazeroski’s home run
Today is the 50th anniversary of the most traumatic experience of my childhood: Bill Mazeroski’s home run leading off the bottom of the 9th inning to win the seventh game of the World Series for Pittsburgh over the Yankees. Easily the most exciting game I’ve ever seen. Today is a state holiday in Pennsylvania.
Hah. I was standing in the den of our home in Union, New Jersey watching the game with my ten years older sister Karen, who was for Pittsburgh as she was on the left and anti-Yankee. She was leaping up and down in triumphant joy at Mazeroski’s home run. I was broken.
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Of course I recognize the jocular tone of your comment about your sister, leftism, and being anti-Yankee. But I’m curious. Do you call your sister’s anti-Yankee-ism evidence of being “on the left” because it was pointlessly contrarian? That seems somewhat leftist to me, though plenty of people who aren’t on the left still love an underdog. Or was it because she was cheering against the home interest? That seems a more serious problem (one my own sister indulges in, and she cheers for a team that has become a winner recently, the Boston Red Sox).
But if merely being anti-Yankee makes one a leftist, I may have to reconsider my political affiliations! The Yankees, despite all their majestic success through the decades, were not ordained by God to exist in hierarchical supremacy over the rest of baseball. Rebellion against the Yankees is not rebellion against the natural order. From where I sit, it is rebellion against the evil, pinstriped empire. We may have lost a stunning 101 games this season, but nevertheless … Go Mariners!
Half in jest, half in earnest,
Daniel H. in Seattle
I was not suggesting that being anti-Yankee indicates that one is leftist. Rather, that people on the left, at least back in those days, tended to be anti-Yankee, because the Yankees were so dominant and thus represented power. My sister was a leftist, and clearly her anti-Yankeedom was at least partially an expression of that.
At the same time, I agree with you that one does not need to be on the left to be anti-Yankee. I have a very right wing female friend who absolutely detests the Yankees of recent years, because of the boring way they have dominated, year after year.
For Shrewsbury, three years your junior, the dark night of the soul came three years later, when the evil Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Yankees in four straight in the 1963 World Series. The young Shrewsbury was the only Yankee fan he knew; he was surrounded by both kids and adults perversely gloating over this annihilation of the noble Yankees, presaging the sociopolitical sickness of the later Sixties. Mazeroski’s home run may have been a crushing blow, but at least he wasn’t actually evil like the Dodgers. Shrewsbury still wants to punch the thuggish Don Drysdale in his smug, insensate face.
The phenomenon of Yankee hatred during approximately the 1940-75 period was certainly peculiar. I blame the Jews. Amongst sportswriters there was this cult of the Brooklyn Dodgers, we were supposed to believe they were in some metaphysical way the most colorful sports entity in the history of the world, never mind that button-downed fellows like Gil Hodges or avocado farmer Duke Snider seemed like androids next to the Yankees. Fer the love of Mike, the Bombers were chock-a-block with riotous fellows such as Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Billy Martin, Casey Stengel … one of the most “colorful” teams in history, and yet we were told that rooting for the Yankees was “like rooting for U.S. Steel.”
Mayer Schiller has written about this:
By and large our parents had rooted for the Dodgers or Giants, and now (after the treason-season of 1957) we made our own choices. Some retained the old loyalties to the former New York teams. Others became Mets fans. While still others drifted toward the remaining National League teams. The notion of rooting for the Yankees struck this latter group, of which I was a proud member, as … vaguely Republican, and unmistakably goyish.
You see? You see? The memory of this schmaltzy brainlessness has tormented Shrewsbury for half a century, and the ramifications of this bigotry were endless. Tom Seaver was somehow colorful, but Ron Blomberg was somehow goyish. We were told that the return of National League baseball to Gotham in ‘62 with the first season of the New York Mets profoundly thrilled New York; yet the Mets drew fewer than a million paying customers that year. Al Gionfriddo’s clumsy catch of Joe DiMaggio’s wallop in the ‘47 World Series, Sandy Amoros’s not-bad grab of Berra’s bid for an opposite-field double in ‘55, are still celebrated as two of the great athletic feats of the last century. Meanwhile, Tom Tresh’s phenomenal series-saving snare of a certain triple off the bat of Willie Mays in the seventh inning of the seventh game of the ‘62 World Series, is utterly forgotten….
- Rabbi Mayer Schiller, “Killer Goryl,” Elysian Fields: The Baseball Quarterly.
Oy, don’t get me started.
LA to Shrewsbury:
Where did you live at the time?
On East 10th Street in Manhattan. Every boy at my detention center, er, public school was a Mets or Dodgers fan. And I recall vividly going with my faddah to the house of a coworker of his in Joizey (a “Negro”!—even though we all know that before the Civil Rights Act was passed white people would club every black person they saw to the ground with a brickbat), and it was full of adult male hominids and the fourth game of the horrible ‘63 WS was on the old black-and-white, and they were gloating, hur-hur-hur-hur … except for my faddah, who could not have cared less one way or the other.
Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the IRS (to update the old saw).
As readers know, I don’t follow baseball today at all. But one must say that the Yankees of the 1950s and early 1960s were one fantastic collection of players. And highly individualistic and colorful, as Shrewsbury has said
In all my life, I have never, not for a single moment, been into the Dodgers. They’ve always been alien to me. My major, sustained fandom was for the San Francisco Giants from 1960 to 1965.
Alan Roebuck writes:
Having lived my entire life in the greater LA area, I was always a Dodgers fan, although of late I have become relatively indifferent to professional sports and have even transferred some of my residual loyalty to the, umm, er, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I believe that’s their official moniker.) As a Dodger fan, I necessarily viewed the Yanks as the Evil Empire. It’s part of the traditions of our elders. After all, ya gotta root for your hometown team.
Some years ago I recall Pravda on the Hudson, in an editorial, wishing the Arizona Diamondbacks well in their forthcoming World Series clash with the Yankees. This was the final proof that the NYT is satanic: They can’t even root for their own team.
On a less serious note, Kim Riddlebarger, senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim (Angels territory) was taken as a child to his first baseball game to see the Angels at Dodger Stadium. (The Angels’ first home.) The Angels’ opponents that day were the Bronx Bombers and whaddaya know, Kim fell in love with the Yanks. Apparently nobody told him the rule about rooting for the home team. He retains this proclivity to this day.
Spencer Warren writes:
Here is a detailed article recounting the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, which the author calls “The greatest game ever played.”
I always had it in for Roger Maris after he fouled out in the 9th with everyone else contributing to the desperate rally. Note he was 0 for 5 for the day.
What he did do is: winning game three in ‘61 with a homer in the ninth and game winning hit I think in Game five in ‘62 plus his great fielding play in the ninth inning of game seven, cutting off Mays’s double and preventing Matty Alou scoring from first with two out.
In ‘61, true conservative, I was the only “asterisk” kid among my friends, who often argued with me!
David B. writes:
Age 10, I was hanging on every pitch while watching the seventh game of the 1960 World Series on TV. I was thrilled when the Yankees tied it up 9-9 in the top of the ninth. Remember Mickey Mantle diving back into first base to avoid a double play and enabling the tying run to score?
Then came Mazeroski’s home run in the bottom of the ninth. I remember my mother telling me it wasn’t important and making me go out and pick cotton.
We had a four acre cotton allotment on our rural Tennessee farm and school was out for cotton picking vacation, which is why I was home all day.
New York liberal writers seemed to root for the Brooklyn Dodgers over the Yankees, sometimes saying it was because the Dodgers were racially integrated. Some of them couldn’t get over the move to Los Angeles.
Spencer Warren writes:
A tape of the complete telecast was discovered in Bing Crosby’s (he was a part Pittsburgh owner) wine cellar and will be shown on the MLB channel in December. About the fourth telecast pre-1970 extant.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 13, 2010 12:47 PM | Send