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A Fall Classic

I think that many of the best stories, at their heart, are about finding hidden treasure—so I already found this one fascinating. The fact that it's about baseball, especially at this time of year, made it doubly so. And the healthy dash of serendipity? Well, that certainly doesn't hurt.

But, to the point:

Tomorrow (as I write this), October 13, is the 50th anniversary of what was arguably the greatest home run in baseball history. In Game 7 of a hard-fought 1960 World Series, in the bottom of the 9th inning of a tumultuous, back-and-forth affair, Bill Mazeroski lifted the Pittsburgh Pirates to a wild and improbable victory over the New York Yankees, winners of seven of the previous eleven Series. It was the original "walk-off" home run, the drive that put a punctuation mark on what is still considered to be one of the best games ever played.

Like so much of the golden age, it was preserved only in bits and pieces, highlights on a grainy newsreel.

That is, until a kinescope of the entire original television broadcast was recently found, in pristine condition, in the wine cellar of Bing Crosby's California home.

The crooner, who died in 1977, was a part owner of that 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates team and had arranged for the broadcast to be recorded while he was out of the country.

Chalk it up to foresight or good fortune—for baseball fans, it's a bit of history come alive. Imagine a game unadorned, presented with minimal commentary, sponsorship and graphic eye candy.

And it's a piece of history worth holding on to. That shot over the left-field wall marked not only the end of a game and World Series, it may well have marked the end of an era.

The game itself saw big changes in 1961—with the advent of expansion teams and asterisks—and has followed the trajectory where, for better or for worse, the average ballplayer now outearns the average American several hundred times over.

Consider that, in 1960, both Ted Williams and Stan Musial, displeased with their performances from the previous season, actually asked for pay cuts.

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio (and friends)?


For more on the discovery of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, check out In Bing Crosby’s Wine Cellar, Vintage Baseball from the New York Times.