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World Series photograph illustrates one governor’s love of baseball

July 1, 2016

Filed under Pennsylvania State Archives, Pennsylvania Treasures

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Gov. David L. Lawrence shows off a newspaper headline detailing the Pittsburgh Pirates’ victory in the 1960 World Series

This image shows Gov. Lawrence seated behind a desk in his office at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg showing off a newspaper headline detailing the winner of the 1960 World Series. Fans often refer to the Pittsburgh Pirates as the ‘Bucs’ or the ‘Buccos.’

In this photo preserved by the Pennsylvania State Archives, Gov. David L. Lawrence proudly shows off the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headline detailing the Pittsburgh Pirates’ victory over the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series. Pirate second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit a home run on a 1-0 pitch from Yankee hurler Ralph Terry over the left field wall at Forbes Field in the ninth inning of game seven of the series to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a world championship. The photograph on the front page of the newspaper shows Mazeroski running with his right arm up stretched victoriously as he nears home plate. Mazeroski’s solo blast broke a 9-9 tie in the game and gave the Pirates their first World Series title since 1925. Mazeroski’s home run marked the first time in Major League Baseball history that a World Series was decided by a walk-off home run.

The photographic unit of the Bureau of Public Information in the Pennsylvania Department of Highways took this photograph on October 14, 1960. The image, taken from an original negative in the collection of the Pennsylvania State Archives, depicts Gov. Lawrence seated behind a desk in his office at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. The photographer’s logbook lists the caption for this photograph as, “Gov. with Pitts. Newspaper ‘Pirates Champs’.” The Department of Highways’ Photographic Unit was originally formed to take photographs of road conditions and improvements throughout the state. After 1920, photographs in this collection were increasingly taken for the purpose of publicity or public education. By the 1950s, the photographic unit was completing work for many other state agencies. The unit today is known as Commonwealth Media Services.

David L. Lawrence was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 18, 1889. He grew up in the Golden Triangle area of the city. Lawrence was a four-term mayor of Pittsburgh, first elected to that post in 1945. He was elected governor in 1958, serving from January 1959 through January 1963.

In addition to Lawrence’s successful political career, he was a lifelong fan and supporter of the Pittsburgh Pirates. So deep and renowned was his love for the Pirates that Lawrence wrote a series of articles chronicling the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. His articles began on the first day of the series. In his first article on October 5, Lawrence predicted that the Pirates would win the World Series in five games. Ford Frick, commissioner of major of league baseball, asked Lawrence to throw out the first ball before game one of the series in Pittsburgh. The governor claimed that he had been warming up since being told of the honor and stated, “I’ll fire my high fast one at those Yankees. The arm never felt better.” In his column the next day, Lawrence wrote this about his first-pitch experience. “When I fired out the first ball to the Pirates, Catcher Smokey Burgess told me it was a strike when he returned the ball. I thought I tossed a blooper like Rip Sewell, the old Pirate pitcher once threw.” Upon settling back into his seat, Lawrence whistled and clapped so hard for the Pirates in game one that it drew comments from nearby Yankee fans.

Pirates’ fans, desperate for a series victory over the New York Yankees, staged a large rally for their beloved Buccos the night before game one of the 1960 World Series. The crowd was so wild that Al Gioia of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette declared that it was the “Wackiest night in city’s history.” Many businesses held World Series television parties for their clients at downtown hotels. These parties were deemed a great success. Lawrence was only able to attend the first two games of the series, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, in person. Political engagements, such as campaigning for John F. Kennedy’s presidential bid, kept him from attending the three games in New York and the final two games in Pittsburgh. Nevertheless, Lawrence followed these games closely through television and radio coverage.

Lawrence wrote in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that he believed that the fantastic support from Pittsburgh’s fans would help the Pirates beat the Yankees in the series. He also took the opportunity in one of his World Series columns to advocate for the building of a new multipurpose sports stadium in Pittsburgh saying, “The fact the Pirates brought the World Series to Pittsburgh should be impetus enough to get the stadium plans to move quicker. I definitely would like to see our city have the stadium . . . .”

Mazeroski’s dramatic series-winning home run set off massive celebrations in Pittsburgh and as one baseball historian commented, “sent the entire state into ecstasy.” This writer further commented that the Pirates’ victory in the 1960 series “produced mass hysteria throughout Pennsylvania.” While this might be a slight exaggeration, it can be clearly documented that downtown Pittsburgh turned into a scene of bedlam and delirious celebrating immediately after the series was over.

After the first six games of the World Series, the Yankees had scored a total of 46 runs. The Pirates had only scored 17 runs. And yet, the series was deadlocked at three games apiece. The Yankees set series records with 55 runs scored and 91 hits tallied and team batting average of .338 in 1960, yet the Pirates secured an unlikely victory thanks to Mazeroski’s clutch home run in the ninth inning of game seven.

This edition of Pennsylvania Treasures was written by Richard Saylor, an Archivist at the Pennsylvania State Archives.

 

About Pennsylvania Treasures:
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission houses artifacts hailing from all eras of the commonwealth’s past. These objects represent Pennsylvania arts, culture, history, sciences, business and agriculture. PHMC curators continue to research the stories behind many of these rarely exhibited artifacts and works of art. We are sharing these Pennsylvania Treasures with the public through weekly updates.