When St. Louis Cardinal second baseman Kolten Wong hit his dramatic walk off home run to win Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday night, it was almost midnight on October 12, 2014 in St. Louis, just a few minutes before October 13 and the 54th anniversary of one of the most dramatic home runs in baseball history.
On October 13, 1960, another second baseman, Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates, hit the only walk off ninth inning game winning home run ever hit in a Game 7 of the World Series in the history of baseball. Mazeroski’s homer, which gave the Pirates a 10-9 victory over the New York Yankees was hit leading off last of the ninth off Yankee pitcher Ralph Terry.
This had to be one of the greatest finishes in the history of the World Series. The Yankees led 5-4 going into the top of the eighth inning and added two to make it 7-4 going to the last of the eighth. In the last of the eighth, the Pirates scored five to make it 9-7, Pirates. In the top of the ninth, the Yankees came back and got two runs off Harvey Haddix when Mickey Mantle drove in Bobby Richardson, the eventual MVP of the Series, with a single to make it 9-8. Richardson had singled and Dale Long, a pinch hitter, singled him to second before Mantle drove him in. Gil McDougald came in to run for Long and scored when Yogi Berra grounded to first and the game was tied, 9-9 going to the last of the ninth.
With Terry on the mound for the Yankees, after relieving Jim Coates in the last of the eighth, with the count 1-0, Mazeroski hit Terry’s next pitch over the left field wall and the game was over and the Pirates were World’s Champs. Baseball Almanac quotes Ralph Terry as saying ‘ I don’t know what the pitch was. All I know is it was the wrong one.’
Wong’s dramatic walk off homer off Sergio Romo may not have been as important as Mazeroski’s but it was big for the Cardinals. If they had lost that game, they would have gone to San Francisco to face the Giants down two games to none, facing elimination if they didn’t win two of three from the Giants in their own ballpark.
Both Wong’s and Mazeroski’s homers came leading off the ninth on the second pitch.
Wong had gone 0-9 since homering in the seventh inning of Game 3 against the Dodgers in the NLDS. In Game 1 of the World Series, Mazeroski had hit a two run home run that proved to be the difference as the Pirates won 6-4. At the time they hit their famous home runs, Mazeroski was 24 years old, having turned 24 on September 5, and Wong had turned 24 on October 10. Mazeroski hit only 11 homers in the entire regular season in 1960, his last on September 25 while Wong hit just 10, his last on September 20.
Both are a part of baseball history today. Not many second basemen are remembered for winning big games with home runs.
With Game 3 a couple of hours away, the Cardinals are saying that Yadier Molina is day to day with his strained oblique and could play as soon as tomorrow. Anyone who saw him leave the field on Sunday night may find that hard to believe but I hope he gets back for the series if the Cards make it that far. He is important to both their defense and offense. A. J. Pierzynski will get the start behind the plate for the Cards today.