Not only was Mazeroski the greatest second baseman in Pirate history, he was also very likely the best defensive second basemen of all time. Yet he achieved instant fame with one swing of the bat on October 13, 1960. He had already made his mark in that World Series against the Yankees with a two-run homer in the opener. Batting in the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game, he drove Ralph Terry‘s second pitch over the left field wall at Forbes Field to give Pittsburgh a 10-9 win and its first World Championship since 1925. That dramatic shot helped earn him the Babe Ruth Award as outstanding player in the Series, and TSN’s ML Player of the Year Award.
Signed out of an Ohio high school in 1954, the West Virginia native advanced to Pittsburgh in 1956. With shortstop Dick Groat, Mazeroski cemented a rebuilt Pirate infield that formed the base of the 1960 champions. He replaced the departed Groat as team captain, paired with shortstop Dick Schofield in 1963-64, then spent the rest of his career turning double plays with Gene Alley. Leg injuries began to take their toll in 1969; he soon turned over second base to young Dave Cash.
Mazeroski was a fine offensive performer, one of the top home run hitters among NL second basemen despite the spacious dimensions of his home park. He hit as many as 19 HR in 1958. But it is as a fielder that his name peppers the record books. An eight-time Gold Glove winner, he set ML second base records with 1,706 career double plays and 161 double plays in a season (1966, when the Pirates set a NL record with 215 total double plays). He led NL second basemen in double plays a record eight seasons (1960-67); in chances accepted a record eight; and in assists a record nine, including five straight (1960-64) for another NL mark. His 163 games at second base in 1967 set the ML record, and he tied the NL record of five seasons with more than 500 assists.