Every Pittsburgh sports fan knows the almost mythical story of Bill Mazeroski’s homerun to win Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. What many younger fans might not know is that the Pirates were outscored in the series by a combined score of 55–27. The three games the Pirates lost in the series were by a combined score of 38-3. They lost Game 2, 16-3, Game 3, 10-0, and Game 6, 12-0.
The Penguins recently-completed second-round series with the Capitals had some eerily similar parallels to that World Series played 57 years ago. Granted, this was only a second-round series, compared to a World Series, but many feel that this series was the “real” Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins were outshot in every game. For the series, they were outshot 229-161. The Penguins were also outhit 247-188. Similarly, in the 1960 World Series, the Pirates were outhit 91–60, out-averaged .338 to .256, and out-homered ten to four.
The Penguins were outplayed for large portions of the series, but had Marc-Andre Fleury in net to bail out his teammates time and time again. He stopped 211 of 229 shots, including pitching a shutout in the winner-take-all Game 7. For the 1960 Pirates, it was pitcher Vern Law that bailed out his teammates, starting Games 1, 4, and 7, staring as the winning pitcher in games 1 and 4. The Yankees, meanwhile, got two complete-game shutouts from Whitey Ford, yet still lost the series.
The 1960 World Series featured seven past, present, or future league Most Valuable Players. The Pirates had two – Dick Groat (1960) and Roberto Clemente (1966) – while the mighty Yankees had five: Yogi Berra (1951, 1954, 1955), Bobby Shantz (1952), Mickey Mantle (1956, 1957, 1962), Roger Maris (1960, 1961), and Elston Howard (1963).
In the same manner, the Penguins/Capitals series featured three different scoring champions. Evgeni Malkin (2009, 2012), Sidney Crosby (2007, 2014), and Alex Ovechkin (2008). That same trio also shares six NHL MVP awards between them. Crosby (2007, 2014), Malkin (2012), and Ovechkin (2008, 2009, 2013).
There were six eventual Hall of Famers that participated in the 1960 World Series. For the Pirates, it was Clemente and Mazeroski. For the Yankees, it was their manager, Casey Stengel, Berra, Ford, and Mantle. The Penguins/Capitals series, undoubtedly, featured numerous future Hall of Famers such as Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, and perhaps others like Fleury and Justin Williams.
To continue the parallels between the two series, in Game 6 of the 1960 World Series, the Pirates were absolutely embarrassed at home in Forbes Field by a score of 12-0, while allowing 17 hits. A similar story played out in Game 6 of the Penguins/Capitals series at home in PPG Paints Arena where the Penguins played their worst game of the playoffs, looking completely overmatched in a 5-2 loss that wasn’t nearly as close as the score would indicate.
In Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, neither the Yankees nor the Pirates recorded a single strike out; the only such game in MLB post-season history that this has ever occurred. In Game 7 of the Penguins/Capitals series, the Capitals failed to record a goal and Fleury recorded his ninth-career playoff shutout, good for 12th most in NHL history.
The Yankees came into the 1960 World Series having won 10 of the past 12 American League championships. Coming into the Penguins/Capitals Series, Washington had won the past two Presidents’ Trophies as the team with the NHL’s best record.
The parallels between these two series are noteworthy. They both featured Pittsburgh teams that, seemingly, beat the odds the win an improbable Game 7. The 1960 Pirates were the last team to win a championship on Pittsburgh soil. The 2017 Penguins will now skate into the Eastern Conference Final looking to move one step closer to bringing home the franchise’s fifth championship and, perhaps, a first on Pittsburgh soil since that fabled 1960 World Series team.