SI Vault
 
THE KNIFE AND THE HAMMER
Roy Terrell
October 17, 1960
The World Series was a battle of contrasts—between the stilettolike skills of the singles-hitting Pittsburgh Pirates and the bludgeoning home-run power of the New York Yankees. The Pirates won their games deftly, delicately, with painful little slashes and stabs. The Yankees won theirs by knocking people unconscious with large clubs
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 17, 1960

The Knife And The Hammer

The World Series was a battle of contrasts—between the stilettolike skills of the singles-hitting Pittsburgh Pirates and the bludgeoning home-run power of the New York Yankees. The Pirates won their games deftly, delicately, with painful little slashes and stabs. The Yankees won theirs by knocking people unconscious with large clubs

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

By Sunday New Yorkers were beginning to wonder if the Pirates, like the long-gone National League itself, were a myth. Where was all the deadly pitching and defense, the decisive, timely hitting, the fabled spirit which had flattened good ball clubs like Milwaukee and St. Louis and San Francisco and L.A.? Finally, in the fourth game of the 1960 World Series, the doubters saw the team that had won its pennant by seven games. The Pirates did not overpower the Yankees as they had been overpowered, but they won 3-2 and proved that they were indeed real.

The three key men, as in the opening-game victory in Pittsburgh, were Law, Face and Virdon. And perhaps the key moment of the game came in the first inning, when Bob Cerv, leading off for the Yankees, singled, and Tony Kubek doubled him to third—just as though the Pirate nightmare of Thursday and Saturday was to continue forever. It was then that Law demonstrated how superior the first-line Pittsburgh pitching is to that of the secondary relief men who had been drubbed so unmercifully in the previous two games. He made Maris fly out to short right field. He walked Mantle intentionally to setup the double play, and he forced Berra to bounce into that double play. Hoak took the ball, stepped on third and buzzed it across to first to beat Berra by inches.

The Pirates knew then that they were not going to be slaughtered, and they were not particularly concerned when the Yankees did score. Skowron rammed a pitch into the right-field seats with two out in the fourth, but instead of coming apart, Law got tough; he struck out four of the next five batters.

Ultimately, he tired, and the Yankees got to him for a double and two singles to score another run in the seventh. This left two men on base with one out—so in came Face to save the game. The first batter, Cerv, whaled a baseball out into right center, almost to the 407-foot mark on the bleacher wall. Back went Virdon at full speed to save the saver. He jumped high into the air, caught the ball and landed, rolling, against the fence. That was the last chance the Yankees had.

As for the Pirate offensive against Ralph Terry, it was nothing for four innings; the slender right-hander struck out five, gave up no hits and only one unimportant, two-out walk. But when the Pirates finally got a foot in the door, they wiggled and pushed until they had three runs.

Gino Cimoli led off the fifth with a single. Smoky Burgess hit a two-strike curve ball down toward first base, the ball hopping slowly, and Skowron came in to pick it up. He threw to Kubek at second, trying to get the lead man, and the throw was late. Everyone was safe. When Hoak and Mazeroski popped out to the infield, it appeared that Terry was out of trouble, however, for now the pitcher was coming up.

But Vernon Law is a pitcher who can hit, and he hit Terry for a double into the left-field corner. Cimoli scored and Burgess reached third. Virdon, with two strikes, swung and hit the ball on the handle of his bat. It flew lazily out into center field, dropped 15 feet in front of the hard-charging Mantle, and both Burgess and Law scored. When Law reached the whooping Pirate bench, Danny Murtaugh walked up the steps to meet him and solemnly shook his hand.

The Yankees didn't feel too bad about Face; this was the best relief pitcher in the National League, probably in all baseball, and they had hit a couple of pretty good shots against him. Somebody just happened to catch the ball. As a matter of fact, the Yankees didn't seem to feel too bad about anything. They dashed into their dressing room, into the players' lounge, and cheered uproariously as Frank Gifford caught a touchdown pass from Chuck Conerly to help the football Giants beat the Steelers 19-17 on TV. Pittsburgh hadn't completely swept the day.

In the Pirate dressing room, Law had to grin about Skowron's home run. "I didn't even intend for that pitch to be a strike," he said. "I was trying to throw it outside. It was outside, all right, but not far enough for that guy."

Virdon thought that the catch he made in the first game off Berra was tougher than the big one he had made against Cerv. "I had more room to go back," he said. "Also, Clemente wasn't climbing up my back."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5