Baseball writer Reisler (Black Writers/Black Baseball, 2007, etc.) analyzes one of the greatest upsets in World Series history.
The 1960 World Series was not expected to be much of a contest. The Yankees had won six championships in the 1950s and boasted one of the most impressive lineups in baseball, including Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. Pittsburgh, while fielding greats Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski, did not approach that star power. After six games, the Yankees had outscored the Pirates 46-16. Relying on timely hits and exemplary defense to make up for their lack of home-run power, the Pirates managed to extend the series to a seventh and deciding game, which they won. But the Yankees came back to nail the Series in 1961 and 1962, while the Pirates only won two more titles over the next 47 years (and counting)—so the 1960 upset didn’t prompt a paradigm shift in how teams were made or managed. Lacking any compelling evidence that this game was especially significant to baseball or beyond, Reisler bulks up his chronicle by adding information already familiar to most baseball fans: Talented hitter Roger Maris was a private person who disdained big-city pleasures; Mickey Mantle liked the night life; Roberto Clemente was treated poorly by fans and the press despite his tremendous skills because he was a dark-skinned Latino, etc. Reisler also takes the conventional path in depicting the Yankees as a corporate behemoth and the Pirates as a group of misfits and rebels who wrested the top prize from a team often compared to U.S. Steel. The story of the game itself reads like an expanded box score.
Shows great love for the underdog, but doesn’t make a great case for the game’s larger importance.