Saturday, June 26, 2010
Kiss It Good-Bye: The Mystery, the Mormon, and the Moral of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates by John Moody
Kiss It Good-Bye: The Mystery, the Mormon, and the Moral of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates by
When I heard that Deseret was publishing Kiss It Good-Bye, I had to read and review this book, as I've been a huge baseball fan since my Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in 1958.
John Moody was a 6 year old in Pittsburgh when the Pirates won the World Series, especially winning against the usually unbeatable Bronx Bombers, the New York Yankees, but 1960 was the year for the Bucks. They scrapped their way to their first Series win since 1927. and not last. The unlikely Pirate to help earn the Pirates their first World Series was pitcher Vernon Law, a very down to earth Mormon farm boy from Meridian, Idaho. Vernon had the nickname of The Deacon from his teammates for his strict Mormon upbringing.
In the early days of major league baseball, players were close to their fans, knew how to really play the game, unlike how they play today. There were no free agents, million dollar salaries, high performance enhancing drugs or egos.
Pittsburgh was the Steel City because of the steel mills that caused a gray cloud over the city for many years. It took some years to clean up Pittsburgh so that the citizens could breathe. They built skyscrapers, cleaned up the rivers. In the 40's, they were using electric lights, as the Steel City was in the dark during the day, and people had to cover their mouths and noses because of the contaminants around them. Some well known people couldn't wait to get out of Pittsburgh, like Gene Kelly and Edison. John Moody couldn't wait to move to Chicago.
The Bucks in 1952 had the worst ever record of any Major League Team with a record of 42-112. They finished 54 1/2 games out of first place. They were constantly the cellar kings.
In the 50's, segregation was rampant, so the black athletes couldn't be in the same restaurants with the other players, which was the norm in those days, but so unfair. The blacks would have separate restrooms, drinking fountains and have to sit at the back of the bus. This segregation was felt at the stadium. Vernon had been raised to treat everyone with respect and he did everywhere he went.
Vernon married his high school sweetheart VaNita, who gave him children with V names: Veldon, Varlin, Vaughn, Veryl and Vance, who also was a Major League player.
Vern won the Cy Young award and was the most valuable player in that momentous World Series, but he never regained his pitching arm after an injury to his ankle after they won the pennant. When all the team were on the bus celebrating with champagne, a member of the Pirate contingency got carried away and injured his ankle. Even while pitching his two games in the Series, he played with excruciating pain and in the next few seasons, because of that ankle injury, overcompensated and c aused his pitching arm to change. He never complained once. After retiring, he became a Baseball Coach at BYU.
One nice thing I enjoyed about this delightful book is that each chapter is called an inning and the last chapter is entitled Extra Innings. John Moody brings the last game of that Series to a very exciting climax. I think the 7th game of that 1960 World Series was one oof the most exciting series of all time. An unlikely team, if ever, beat those great Bronx Bombers that had the best Yankee players ever to play the game: Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Moose Skowron, Whitey Ford, and Roger Maris. The team that beat these guys were scrappy guys, such as: Vernon Law, Bill Mazeroski, Dick Groat, Bill Virdon, Joe Gibbon, Dick (Ducky) Schofield, Bob Friend, ElRoy Face, Bob Skinner, Joe Christopher, Hal Smith, Gino Cimoli, George Witt, Bob Oldis and the late great Roberto Clemente.
Forever Friends Rating 5 Stars by Teri
Until Next Time, See You Around The Book Nook.
I received my review copy from Deseret.
Published by: Shadow Mountain