Bill Mazeroski, iconic Pirates player and Baseball Hall of Famer, is one of 14 highlighted Pittsburgh athletes as part of the Downtown Renown: Pittsburgh Sports Greats series showcasing stories as inspirational as they are amazing. Designed in collaboration with artist Gavin Benjamin, find all sports profiles windows currently on view in windows around the neighborhood.
Considered one of the premier defensive players of all time, he is most remembered for a home run. This year marks the 60th anniversary of that moment – at 3:36 pm on October 13, 1960, the Pirates #9 stepped to the plate in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series. With the score tied 9-9 Bill Mazeroski slammed Yankee pitcher Ralph Terry’s second pitch over the wall at Forbes Field, winning the game and the Series. The blast, the first Game 7 walk-off home run in MLB history, gave the Pirates their first championship in 35 years and created an indelible moment in the annals of sports history.
Mazeroski is somewhat of a hometown hero. Born in Wheeling, West Virginia, he grew up in Ohio. A standout athlete for Warren Consolidated High School in Tiltonsville, Ohio, Mazeroski excelled in both baseball and basketball. Signed as a 17 year old by the legendary Branch Rickey in 1954, Maz spent his entire Major League career with the Pirates (1956-72). He came into the League a shortstop, but blossomed after moving to second base.
Mazeroski made his debut in the big leagues on July 7, 1956 in a game against the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. He got a single in his first appearance at the plate but struggled his rookie year. The hiring of Danny Murtaugh changed everything – Maz regained his confidence, earned the first Gold Glove of the eight he would eventually claim, and was chosen to play in the All-Star game. His 19 home runs and 69 RBIs were second in the majors at his position.
Defense is where he forged his true legacy. KDKA sports announcer Bob Prince nicknamed him “The Glove,” and with great hands, quick feet, a sure arm, and great range, he turned the double play into an art form. Maz easily made the routine plays while also making the tough plays look routine. In his 17 seasons he led all National League second basemen in assists 9 times, double plays 8 times, putouts 5 times, and fielding percentage 3 times. Chosen for 10 All-Star games, Maz still holds the MLB record for most double plays, 1,706, at second base. Even with the physical demands of that position, Maz proved incredibly durable, playing in 2,163 games.
A key member of the 1960 and 1971 World Series teams, he and Roberto Clemente played together for Maz’s entire career. A quiet man who loved nothing more than spending time with family and friends, Maz retired in 1972. After years of lobbying by teammates and sports historians, Mazeroski was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. He never read his acceptance speech, overcome by emotion he left the podium in tears after delivering only a few lines. Beloved by Pirates fans, he was honored with a statue at PNC Park on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1960 Series. It preserves a moment in bronze when a sports legend was created.
Learn more about the history of baseball from the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center.
This spotlight is a part of the Downtown Renown: Pittsburgh Sports Greats series. Learn more about the project, and look for all 14 sports profile windows in Downtown!
Arnold Palmer • Bill Mazeroski • Charles “Chuck” Cooper • Dan McCoy • Franco Harris • Honus Wagner • Joe Greene • John Woodruff • Josh Gibson • Mario Lemieux • Roberto Clemente • Suzie McConnell-Serio • Swin Cash • Sidney Crosby
📍 View this Pittsburgh Sports Great window installation at 900 Penn Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh.