Pirates honor 1960 title team with ceremony

Pirates honor 1960 title team with ceremony

PITTSBURGH -- Before taking the field to be honored in a pregame ceremony Saturday, members of the 1960 World Series championship Pirates club had one important stop to make. That was to find the Pirates' clubhouse and mingle with players from the current Pittsburgh roster.

There was also a message to deliver.

"I told them, 'We did it,'" said Vern Law. "'You can do it, too.'"

Law's message to a team mired in a current 12-game losing streak and 17-season losing skid was that the 1960 Pirates -- a team that rode Bill Mazeroski's game-winning homer to defeat the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series -- could relate.

Twelve players from that championship club, as well as former general manager Joe Brown, gathered in Pittsburgh on Saturday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the city's third World Series title. And they all told the same stories.

About how bad the team had been in the previous decade. About how trades had dismantled their club. About how the organization set forth a plan to build from within.

In other words, the process the Pirates' current regime has undertaken, these former Bucs have already seen work.

"These guys are similar to our team, but they just haven't started winning yet," Mazeroski said. "It will happen. It may not happen this year, maybe next year or the year after. This group is very close in my eyes. It's hard to say they're going to win the World Series or get in it, but they're close [to winning]."

"They've just got to put it together," added Bob Oldis, a backup catcher on the '60 club. "They have some young players. When Maz and [Bob] Friend and [Bob] Skinner all came up, each year they got better. And all of a sudden, we put it together. And they believed in each other. When you're young, you wonder if you can do it."

In the 10 years leading up to 1960, the Pirates had just two winning seasons, those coming in 1958 and 1959. Pittsburgh dropped 100 games three times (1952-54) and lost at least 90 games seven different years.

But the team, which was built largely through its farm system, finished '58 with an 84-70 record and two years later won the National League crown with 95 wins.

"We had a team that had talent and just didn't know how to win," Law recalled. "It takes a little patience and hard work and having things happen to you that makes you realize, 'Hey, we can do this. We can win this thing.'

"There is as much talent here as we had. It's just a matter of everybody playing as a team and playing the game the way it's supposed to be played."

No one from the 1960 team was bold enough to predict a playoff berth for the current Pittsburgh team in the near future, but approval for the way this club is building toward its future was unanimous.

"Patience will determine where this club goes," Brown said. "Management will have more patience than the fans will. There are young players with talent on the Pirates now, but they've got to mature and learn to play the game at the Major League level and be confident in their ability that they are going to be good."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.