I was among three hundred or so Pittsburgh Pirate fans that made a pilgrimage to the site of old Forbes Field yesterday afternoon.
This is a quintessential 'Burgh thing - a ritual sprung spontaneously from the act of one Saul Finkelstein who decided during his lunch hour in 1985 to sit on a bench and listen to a tape of his favorite baseball game. You know, the one on October 13, 1960 when Bill Mazeroski, a light hitting second basemen batting eighth in the order, smacked a pitch from Ralph Terry over Yogi Berra's head into history.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Brian O'Neil called it a "cherished rite of autumn" as he described the scene:
"It happened yesterday afternoon, as it does every Oct. 13 at almost exactly the same time. Bill Mazeroski led off the ninth inning with a home run and a raucous crowd of Pirates die-hards erupted rapturously.
"There are no turnstiles at the remnants of Forbes Field's brick center field wall, and so no accurate crowd count. Call it 300 or 400 fans. They came to listen to every pitch of the deciding seventh game of the 1960 World Series because they wanted to relive a 48-year-old memory some were too young to have even had...
"A handful of former Pirates -- Dick Groat, Elroy Face, Bob Friend, Nellie King, Frank Thomas and Dave Giusti -- were there, and old baseball stories were told well. But this was a day for fans, not players, and youthful stories passed back and forth on a day as perfectly sunny as the one back when."
I sat on low wall and swapped tales with my neighbors, while the broadcast of the game crackled clearly in the background. Some things do not change. Gillette hawked the newest innovation in razor blades - the "super blue blade" with a silicon coating. The game announcers, however, did most of the hawking with only a smattering of jingles and jangles.
I enjoyed hearing the old names new again - Mantle, Maris, Berra, Skowron, Kubek, Richardson - I grew up a Yankees fan after all. But as the tension built - and amazingly, it did build, even though the outcome was foregone - I revelled with my fellow Pirate fans when the announcer excitedly sputtered "This may do it..." and erupted just as noisily as anyone else savoring the old moment of the Pirates triumph.