William Stanley Mazeroski (born September 5, 1936) is an American former baseball second baseman who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates, from 1956–72. Nicknamed "Maz", he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.
Mazeroski at the site of Forbes Field on the 50th anniversary of his series-winning home run, 2010
|Born: September 5, 1936|
Wheeling, West Virginia
|July 7, 1956, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 4, 1972, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Runs batted in||853|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Election Method||Veterans Committee|
Mazeroski is regarded as one of the greatest defensive second basemen of all time. He was an All-Star for seven seasons[a] and a Gold Glove Award winner for eight seasons. He was a key member of the Pirates' World Series-winning teams in 1960 and 1971, the former of which he clinched by hitting a walk-off home run in Game 7—the only game 7 walk-off homer in World Series history.
Mazeroski was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, of Polish descent and grew up in Rush Run, Ohio. He attended Warren Consolidated High School in Tiltonsville, Ohio, excelling in both baseball and basketball. He started on the varsity baseball team as a freshman.
As a 17-year-old in 1954, Mazeroski signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Originally a shortstop, he was moved to second base and made his major league debut on July 7, 1956; he played for the Pirates his entire career.
Mazeroski was noted for his defensive prowess and earned his first of eight Gold Glove Awards in 1958. He had a career .983 fielding percentage, led the National League in assists nine times, and holds the MLB record for double plays by a second baseman. Baseball analyst Bill James has written that, "Bill Mazeroski's defensive statistics are probably the most impressive of any player at any position". In 2015, Bill James updated his fielding metrics; Fox Sports said of his second basemen results: "Bill Mazeroski isn't just atop the list of second basemen with at least 1,000 games at second base; he dominates the list. There's as much space between Mazeroski and the No. 2 guy on the list as between the No. 2 guy and the No. 20 guy."
While his defensive ability typically overshadowed his contributions with a bat—Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince used to call him simply "The Glove"—Mazeroski had several fine offensive seasons. His best was in 1958, when he batted .275, hit 19 home runs (a career best), had 68 RBIs, good enough that along with his sterling mitt he was considered for the MVP Award. In 1966 he knocked in 82, a career best. During his peak (1957–68), he drove in more runs than any other middle infielder of the period. Mazeroski's power numbers were held down by the distant fences in Forbes Field. In his career, he hit over twice as many home runs on the road as he did in his home park – 45 home runs at home versus 93 on the road. By comparison, the Chicago Cubs slugging second baseman Ryne Sandberg hit only 118 of his 282 career home runs away from the comfy confines of Wrigley Field.
In the 1960 World Series, Mazeroski won the title for Pittsburgh in Game 7 with a game-winning home run off New York Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Yankees had rallied with two runs to tie the game, 9-9, in the top of the inning, setting up Mazeroski's heroics. A 14-year-old fan named Andy Jerpe retrieved the ball outside the ground and had it signed by Mazeroski, but it was later lost when used in a game.
In spite of his reputation as a non-slugger, Mazeroski actually hit another decisive home run in the 1960 Series, tallying half of the Pirate team total over the seven games. In the fourth inning of Game 1, with Don Hoak on base, Mazeroski hit a shot off Jim Coates that went over the left field scoreboard and provided the edge in a 6–4 Pirates victory.
Mazeroski and Roberto Clemente were the last remaining Pirate players from the 1960 World Series winners, when the Pirates won the World Series in 1971 and lost the NL championship series in 1972. Mazeroski was a member of ex-teammate Bill Virdon's coaching staff with the Pirates in 1973, a year after retiring from playing.
Hall of Fame selection and other honorsEdit
|Bill Mazeroski's number 9 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1987.|
Mazeroski was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. On induction day at Cooperstown he only made it as far into his prepared remarks as thanking the Veterans Committee voters for choosing a player based largely on defensive skills (a rarity) before becoming so emotional he had to stop. Apologizing to those who "had to come all the way up here to hear this crap!" he then sat down to a long and loud standing ovation from the audience and his fellow Hall-of-Famers.
Today, a portion of the brick center field wall from Forbes Field remains standing on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Pittsburgh's Oakland District as a memorial; locally, the wall is usually referred to as "Mazeroski's Wall." Although this is technically not the actual section of wall that Mazeroski's famous home run cleared, a nearby plaque in the sidewalk of Roberto Clemente Drive does mark the spot where the sudden-victory homer cleared the wall. A Little League Softball field dedicated to Mazeroski lies on the other side.
In 1979, Mazeroski was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.
In 1987, Mazeroski ran for the Democratic nomination for County Commissioner in his home of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania but his bid was unsuccessful.
In 1995, Harrison Central High school, located in Cadiz, Ohio had a field donated by Bill which would later be known as "Mazeroski Field"
In 2003, the Ohio Buckeye Local High School in Rayland (which had since absorbed Warren Consolidated) honored him by naming their new baseball field after him, placing a monument behind home plate in recognition.
In 2004, the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference saluted Mazeroski by electing him among the inaugural members of their Hall of Fame, alongside Boston Celtic great John Havlicek and former Olympic wrestler Bobby Douglas.
Mazeroski was recognized by Major League Baseball by being selected to throw out the first pitch of the Home Run Derby that preceded the 2006 All Star Game at Pittsburgh's PNC Park, receiving a long standing ovation. He also was picked to manage the National League during the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game during the All Star week celebrations there.
In September 2010, a statue of Mazeroski was unveiled outside PNC Park, depicting his famed celebration—running with both arms extended, ball cap in right hand—after his game 7 walk-off home run to win the 1960 Series. Sports Illustrated ranked that home run eighth on its list of the 100 Greatest Moments in Sports History.
Mazeroski was the focus of a staged game-ending triple play as part of a cameo appearance in the 1968 Hollywood hit film The Odd Couple. In the scene, Oscar Madison was distracted from witnessing the play by an annoying phone call from Felix Ungar (immediately after sarcastically predicting to fellow sportswriter Heywood Hale Broun that the Mets still had a chance to win if Mazeroski hit into a triple play). In reality, Mazeroski never suffered such an inglorious moment during his playing days, but according to the Society for American Baseball Research was part of triple plays in both 1966 and 1968 as a fielder.
According to an anecdote recorded at the Internet Movie Database web page on The Odd Couple, the scene was actually filmed just prior to the start of a regular game at Shea Stadium on June 27, 1967. Maz reported that he was given only 10 minutes to get it done:
- They had a guy out there pitching and he was throwing fastballs. I knew I had to hit a liner to the third baseman. It only took two takes. The first pitch, I hit a line drive that went just foul. The second one, I hit a one-hopper right to third. He caught it, stepped on third, threw to second, threw to first, a triple play. Now that took talent!
Jack Fisher was the pitcher for the Mets in that scene.
Life after baseballEdit
Mazeroski serves as special infield instructor for the Pirates in spring training and is retired in Panama City, Florida. He was also in a commercial for FSN Pittsburgh featuring former Pirates first baseman Sean Casey.
His son Darren is a retired junior college baseball coach.
His son Dave is an atmospheric scientist and did not pursue a career in baseball.
He would have been the guest of honor at the first showing in 50 years of the previously-lost television footage of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, but was unable to attend due to hospitalization.
Mazeroski hosts an annual golf tournament, The Bill Mazeroski Golf Tournament.
- MLB held two All-Star Games from 1959 through 1962
- The Ultimate Walk-Off. si.com archive, retrieved April 7, 2016.
- The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James, Villard Books, New York, 1988
- "Former Point Breeze teen still wonders about lost Mazeroski ball". Pittsburgh Tribune. September 19, 2010. Archived from the original on September 23, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Westcott, Rich (2001). Great home runs of the 20th century. Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-858-4.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- IMDB The Odd Couple Trivia Page
- Bill Mazeroski at the Baseball Hall of Fame
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- career highlights Baseball Library
- The Baseball Page
- Bill Mazeroski on IMDb
- The Sporting News' Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: Maz
- Audio: Mazeroski's home run to win Game 7 of the 1960 World Series
- on YouTube
- Time article about the home run
- "'60 Series film found in Crosby's cellar". FoxSports.com. Associated Press. September 24, 2010. Archived from the original on September 27, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
| Last hitter of the World Series (Home Run)