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Hal Smith (1930-2020) 89, Would-Be Pirates hero of 1960 World Series

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  • Hal Smith (1930-2020) 89, Would-Be Pirates hero of 1960 World Series

    Hal Smith who for about 15 minutes appeared to be the hero of the 1960 World Series has passed away at the age of 89 years and 1 month. Smith was a solid major league catcher who enjoyed a 10-year career from 1955 to 1964. He was often confused with another catcher named Hal Smith who was a contemporary, who made the 1957 & 1959 National League all-star team and played in the majors from 1956 to 1961 and 1965 all with the St. Louis Cardinals.
    Smith began in the majors in 1955 with the Baltimore Orioles and his 424 at bats that year would wind up representing his career high in playing time and one of his best years (.271, with 11 home runs), as he was platooned for most of his career. The lefty swinger wound up with a .267career batting average.
    Among his career highlights would be his 1957 season with the Kansas City Athletics where he had career highs in home runs (13) and bating average (.303) and 1960 where he hit.295 with 11 home runs.
    Smith's most dramatic moment came in Game7 of the 1960 World Series . After replacing Smokey Burgess late in the game, Smith nailed Yankees pitcher Jim Coates for a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Pirates an apparent 9-7 come-from-behind victory. It was not to be, however as minutes later Roger Maris tied the game with a two-run-blast to tie the game at 9 all. Smith's teammate, Bill Mazeroski would become the '60 Series ultimate hero as he hit a Ralph Terry pitch far over leftfielder Yogi Berra's head and into the stands for the game and World Series winner.. Smith may have not have become his team's ultimate hero, but his clutch, three-run, eighth inning blast was an immeasurable contribution to the Pittsburgh Pirates' improbable, World Series victory.
    Hal Smith (12/7/1930 - 1/9/2020. MLB Career: Baltimore Orioles: 1955; Kansas City Athletics: 1956-1959; Pittsburgh Pirates: 1960-1961, won 1960 World Series; Houston Astros: 1962-1963, was an member of the inaugural Astros team of 1962; and 1964: Cincinnati Reds.

  • #2
    Great writeup, 1954- I always liked Smith. He played very well for the Pirates in 1960, and made a very effective catching tandem with Smokey Burgess. He was a good hitter for most of his career, and had pretty good power,

    I have to point out an error in your writeup of the 60 Series, however. Maris did not tie the game up following Smith's blast. This was the bizarre top of the 9th when, with 1 out and runners on first and 3rd, Berra hit a hard grounder to first for an apparent double play ball which would end the Series with the Pirates winning 9-8 (the Yankees had already scored 1 in the top of the 9th). However, Nelson stepped on first which eliminated the force, and Mantle, the runner on first somehow miraculously dove back to first while avoiding Nelson's tag. Meanwhile, McDougald, the runner on third, scored on the play to tie game 9-9. Minutes later Mazeroski hit one 425 feet to win it all!

    Additionally, Smith was a right handed batter, not left handed.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by BigRon View Post
      Great writeup, 1954- I always liked Smith. He played very well for the Pirates in 1960, and made a very effective catching tandem with Smokey Burgess. He was a good hitter for most of his career, and had pretty good power,

      I have to point out an error in your writeup of the 60 Series, however. Maris did not tie the game up following Smith's blast. This was the bizarre top of the 9th when, with 1 out and runners on first and 3rd, Berra hit a hard grounder to first for an apparent double play ball which would end the Series with the Pirates winning 9-8 (the Yankees had already scored 1 in the top of the 9th). However, Nelson stepped on first which eliminated the force, and Mantle, the runner on first somehow miraculously dove back to first while avoiding Nelson's tag. Meanwhile, McDougald, the runner on third, scored on the play to tie game 9-9. Minutes later Mazeroski hit one 425 feet to win it all!

      Additionally, Smith was a right handed batter, not left handed.
      Burgess hit .295 lifetime. In 1954,with the Philadelphia Phillies, Burgess hit .368 as the Philies primary catcher, but he didn't get enough at-bats to qualify for the National League batting title, because Philies manager Steve O'Neill used Stan Lopata as the team's starting catcher in about 30% of the games. Lopata also had a good season, hitting 290 with 14 home runs, ,ewhile Burgess hit only 4 home runs that year. (Smokey hit 126 HRs for his 18-year, MLB career: 1949; 1951-1967).
      Willie Mays nipped teammate, Don Mueller .345 to .342 to take the NL batting title in '54.

      Smokehy and Curt Simmons hold the distinction of being the last surviving players from 1940s major league baseball. Each played their final game onthefianl day ofthe1967 season. (There Were No four decade players who played CONTINUOUSLY from the 1940s to the 1970s).

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