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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Hal Smith, author of his own huge home run in 1960, dies

Bill Mazeroski has always balked when asked if he’d hit the biggest home run in baseball history.

“Heck,” Maz would respond anytime I’d bring this up in Bradenton, “I didn’t even hit the biggest homer in that game”

Hal Smith, whose three-run home run for the Pirates in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the Yankees would be overshadowed an inning later by Maz’s legendary shot, died Thursday at age 89 in Columbus, Texas, a small town near Houston.

And yes, it was Mr. Smith’s home run that set the stage and, very nearly, stole it, on that magical fall day at Forbes Field half a century ago.

 

 

QLE Posted: January 11, 2020 at 12:11 AM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hal smith, obituaries, pirates, rip, world series

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   1. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: January 11, 2020 at 01:08 AM (#5914737)
Per BR, Smith's HR was 64% WPA while Maz's HR was only 37%. Maz was right.
   2. bbmck Posted: January 11, 2020 at 01:47 AM (#5914740)
Living players that hit a HR in the final game of the World Series that their team won:

Hector Lopez: July 8th, 1929
Del Crandall: March 5th, 1930
(Hal Smith: December 7th, 1930)
Chuck Essegian: August 9th, 1931
Lou Johnson: September 22nd, 1934

Bob Gibson: November 9th, 1935
Frank Howard: August 8th, 1936
Julian Javier: August 9th, 1936
Bill Mazeroski: September 5th, 1936
Al Weis: April 2nd, 1938
Lou Brock: June 18th, 1939

9 players born in the 1940s
9 players born in the 1950s
8 players born in the 1960s
7 players born in the 1970s
8 players born in the 1980s

Anthony Rendon: June 6th, 1990
Mookie Betts: October 7th, 1992
Javier Baez: December 1st, 1992

Willie Stargell: March 6th, 1940 was born 4.5 years after anyone else who has hit one and is deceased.
   3. Tony S Posted: January 11, 2020 at 08:35 AM (#5914744)

If Rocky Nelson picks off Mickey Mantle in the top of the ninth, Hal Smith is better remembered and Bill Mazeroski probably isn't in Cooperstown.

There were two Hal Smiths who played at the same time and played catcher. The other one, primarily a Cardinal, had a few at-bats for the Pirates in 1965.
   4. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: January 11, 2020 at 09:20 AM (#5914752)
I believe I read a study that found Smith’s home run to be the single most significant play in baseball history in terms of championship probability.

In any case, 8 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. That’s a pretty good life to live long enough to see 8 great grandkids. From what little I’ve read about him he has always come across as a good guy.
   5. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: January 11, 2020 at 10:21 AM (#5914756)
If Rocky Nelson picks off Mickey Mantle in the top of the ninth, Hal Smith is better remembered and Bill Mazeroski probably isn't in Cooperstown.


According to BBREF, the play went like this:

Groundout: 1B Unassisted; McDougald scores; Mantle stays at 1B.

That reads like a very strange play. How does Mantle stay at 1B on a grounder to the 1B?
   6. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: January 11, 2020 at 10:25 AM (#5914758)
OK, this is from wiki:

. Yogi Berra followed, hitting a short grounder to first, with Rocky Nelson easily getting the second out. In what, at the moment, stood as a monumental play, Mantle, seeing he had no chance to beat a play at second (and thinking the ball was caught in the air), scurried back to first and avoided Nelson's tag (which would have been the third out) as Gil McDougald (pinch-running for Long) raced home to tie the game at 9.[8] Had he been out on the play, the run would still have counted if it had scored before the tag (but the play happened quickly). With Mantle safe, the inning continued, but ended when Bill Skowron hit into a force play.


   7. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: January 11, 2020 at 11:41 AM (#5914767)
For many years, I would anonymously send messages with the words "brung to ewe by Hal Smith", which an extremely obscure Paul McCartney reference.
   8. Posada Posse Posted: January 11, 2020 at 12:47 PM (#5914780)
The Mantle play at first appears here at roughly the 58:45 mark. Hal Smith's homer is at the 39:50 mark.
   9. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 11, 2020 at 01:41 PM (#5914785)
Too soon! I still have painful childhood memories of the 1960 World Series heading south after Yogi’s 3-run HR gave the Yankees a 7-4 Game 7 lead in a Series in which they outscored the Pirates 55-26. <sigh>
   10. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: January 11, 2020 at 03:29 PM (#5914802)
The Mantle play at first appears here at roughly the 58:45 mark. Hal Smith's homer is at the 39:50 mark.


Wow, that was terrific. Anyone know why Maz wasn't there?

On the play at first. We had a discussion a short while ago about the advantages of a LH thrower at first vs RH. Well, if Nelson had been right handed, he likely would have gotten Mantle easily. But he had to turn his body around to get his glove hand over, and that gave Mickey just enough time to get back safely.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: January 11, 2020 at 03:46 PM (#5914805)
On the play at first. We had a discussion a short while ago about the advantages of a LH thrower at first vs RH. Well, if Nelson had been right handed, he likely would have gotten Mantle easily. But he had to turn his body around to get his glove hand over, and that gave Mickey just enough time to get back safely.


They probably get the DP with a righthander, but the run probably still scores since Mickey just gets himself in a rundown instead of the riskier play he attempted. I don't think it was a smart play on Mantle's part, since he ran the risk of keeping the tying run from scoring if he gets put out at first before McDougald scored.

   12. Sunday silence Posted: January 11, 2020 at 04:08 PM (#5914808)
...if Nelson had been right handed, he likely would have gotten Mantle easily. But he had to turn his body around to get his glove hand over, and that gave Mickey just enough time to get back safely.


I dont think that's whats happening there. If you slow down that video, Nelson turns toward second in order to throw out Mantle who he assumes is running to second. When he sees Mantle coming back to first he takes a huge lunge forward awkwardly, and is so off balance (he's almost face down at that point) he cant react to Mantle sliding away from him and back to 1b. If Nelson just holds his ground he should lean down and tag Mantle easily.

Its just a bad play by Nelson he ends up doing a face plant in front of an agile Mickey Mantle.
   13. bachslunch Posted: January 11, 2020 at 04:15 PM (#5914809)
Chuck Essegian (mentioned above) was an interesting story in his own right. He set a record during the 1959 World Series by hitting two pinch hit HRs, one of them a game winner. He otherwise was a journeyman OF who only played six seasons in the majors, mostly as a reserve OF and pinch hitter.

He was a two-sport star, playing linebacker and fullback for Stanford in the Rose Bowl. He also played the violin, had studied to be a doctor, and spent his post-baseball life as a lawyer, first as a prosecutor in Pasadena, then later in private law practice. Link:

https://retrosimba.com/2018/12/11/why-leaving-cardinals-was-good-break-for-chuck-essegian/
   14. Sunday silence Posted: January 11, 2020 at 04:37 PM (#5914811)
I mean OK, if hes RH the glove is on the left so it is closer to Mantle, so maybe. But didnt Nelson take the ball out of his glove in order to make the throw? It looks like he starts to and then the rest of the play happens..
   15. AndrewJ Posted: January 11, 2020 at 05:25 PM (#5914815)
The MLB Network premiered the showing of the Game 7 kinescope in Pittsburgh 10 years ago with many of the surviving 1960 Pirates, including Hal Smith, on hand. When Hal hit the home run, the 2010 Pirate fans gave him another standing ovation.

If Rocky Nelson picks off Mickey Mantle in the top of the ninth, Hal Smith is better remembered and Bill Mazeroski probably isn't in Cooperstown.

Hal Smith's wife allegedly stopped speaking to Rocky Nelson's wife after the top of the 9th of Game 7.
   16. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: January 11, 2020 at 05:26 PM (#5914816)
In any case, 8 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. That’s a pretty good life to live long enough to see 8 great grandkids.


When I got together with their mother, my 2 future (& now past) stepdaughters had 3 living great-grandparents, which didn't start changing till their great-grandfather died when they 15 & 12, respectively. Meanwhile, I'd run out of grandparents 6 weeks after turning 13; my great-grandparents (& for that matter my maternal grandparents) were long in the ground by the time I was born.
   17. AndrewJ Posted: January 11, 2020 at 06:56 PM (#5914821)
One of my first cousins, who's 54, just became a grandfather. One of my mother's aunts is still alive at 94, meaning there are now five generations of my family around. Considering that one of my grandmothers died in her 40s and that my father never got to know any of his grandparents, this is a remarkable occurence in our family.
   18. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: January 11, 2020 at 10:12 PM (#5914860)
If you slow down that video, Nelson turns toward second in order to throw out Mantle who he assumes is running to second.


Hindsight being 20-20 and all, he should have fired to second initially. As hard as the ball was hit, and with Berra running, they probably complete the DP, and the run doesn't score no matter how long it takes. But by taking off the force, they all but conceded the run.

Anyway, very interesting play, and one I had never heard of until today.
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: January 11, 2020 at 10:25 PM (#5914863)
Hindsight being 20-20 and all, he should have fired to second initially. As hard as the ball was hit, and with Berra running, they probably complete the DP, and the run doesn't score no matter how long it takes.


It's hard to tell from that video, but it's possible he didn't have a choice but to step on first, that he did so in the process or right after fielding the ball.

But yes, if it was an option, firing to second would have been the play. Taking off the force should have removed the DP possibility, but Mantle's really poor decision gave the Bucs a chance.
   20. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: January 11, 2020 at 10:30 PM (#5914866)
It's hard to tell from that video, but it's possible he didn't have a choice but to step on first, that he did so in the process or right after fielding the ball.


I agree. It was a very awkward play.
   21. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: January 11, 2020 at 10:35 PM (#5914867)
One of my first cousins, who's 54, just became a grandfather. One of my mother's aunts is still alive at 94, meaning there are now five generations of my family around.


I once met a 54 YO who claimed to be a Great-Grandfather. Yes, he, his kid, and his kid's kid all had children at 18.
   22. AndrewJ Posted: January 12, 2020 at 06:14 PM (#5914996)
A college friend of mine became a great-great-uncle by the time he was 51 -- his much older brother was a 70-something great-grandfather.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: January 12, 2020 at 06:47 PM (#5915005)
I once met a 54 YO who claimed to be a Great-Grandfather. Yes, he, his kid, and his kid's kid all had children at 18.


My Brother became a Grandfather at 40... his ex- became a grandmother at 33. He very likely can join your friend as he's only 48 now, and if the trend continues he might be a great-grandfather at 56, and his ex at 49.
   24. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 12, 2020 at 07:13 PM (#5915008)

John Mellencamp was a grandfather at 37...he's 68 now but Wikipedia doesn't say whether he has any great grandkids.
   25. Sunday silence Posted: January 12, 2020 at 08:30 PM (#5915016)
Oh by the way I have a world series program from 1960 on ebay. It is signed by nearly all the pirates as well as Whitey. Check it out price is negotiable. I usually dont deal in sports memorabilia but I picked it up at an estate sale and couldnt resist.

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