The Year I was Born (part 1)
The cost of gasoline was $ .25 cents a loaf of bread only $ .20 cents. Eisenhower is President, though JFK would be elected in November by one of the smallest margin in history. “The Magnificent Seven”, “The Entertainer” and “Psycho” were hit movies; a song about an Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini was on the radio. I could go on but this is a baseball card blog and it is the year I was born so I don’t really remember any of that.
Not that I remember any of that baseball season either . . . I did learn to appreciate all that happened in the year of my birth.
The Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series in seven games. They beat the heavily favored and powerful New York Yankees and if that was not good enough (for us Chicago Cubs fan of any era that is usually good enough) the ending of the series was as dramatic as any had seen before.
A second baseball known for his stellar defensive plays, a singles and doubles hitter, career batting average of under .270, less than 50 career homeruns (at the time) hits the game winning, series ending, bottom of the ninth homerun to send the Pirates to their World Series victory. The first ever walk-off homerun to win a world series (since repeated in 1993 with Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays, yet that was a series ending Game 6 homerun).
That is what baseball is all about. The “little” guy, the unsuspecting hero, everyone gets their chance to perform and become a superstar, forever etched in baseball lore. Bill Mazeroski is one of my favorite players outside of Cub-dome.
And speaking of the Cubs . . . did you know that the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates were the first team since 1945 to undo the superstition called the “ex-cub” factor. (the “ex-Cub” factor, in which a team with three or more former Cubs are unable to win the World Series). Thirty-one years later, 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks defied the superstition again.
How many others out there rise to the occasion, perform when the pressure is greatest and make history (baseball or otherwise) when no one expects it ? There are so many stories like Bill Mazeroski in October of 1960. Let’s hear about some of your favorites.
The 1961 card (Topps # 430) depicted here has a great three panel story / comic on the back. That used to be a Topps tradition; mini drawings or comics on every card. Those were the days. Each panel tells us a little something about Mazeroski; his blast that won the series, acknowledging his defensive prowess and that he likes to fish.
The cards of the sixties were fun that way . . . I like the 1961 Topps cards. Simple white border, conventional posed photo, an artist’s rendering of something important about the player and the card has the nine basic stats we all loved to learn about back then (today there are so many more statistics that many argue what is really important any more). Most important to me however, every card has the last line of the stats that read . . . 1960 . . . the year I was born.
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