01/29/10 5:14 PM EST
Bronze Mazeroski statue to rise at PNC
Bucs unveil sculpture honoring Hall of Famer's homer
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
"All I wanted to do was be a Major League Baseball player," he insisted as he stepped to a podium at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Friday. "And then I got to hit a home run.
It's because of that home run that Pirates history won't ever let Mazeroski sit in the shadow. And in fact, now he'll be standing in bronze.
In advance of this weekend's PirateFest event, the Pirates officially announced plans to erect a statue of Mazeroski outside PNC Park. The timing is certainly fitting, as this season marks the 50th anniversary of the Pirates' 1960 World Series championship, which was captured with Mazeroski's famous walk-off homer against the Yankees in Game 7.
"Here 50 years has past and they're still talking about it," Mazeroski said. "That's pretty exciting. I was just a little piece on that team. I hit one home run and get all the credit. I don't deserve it all."
Plans for the statue, which will sit 14-feet high at its tallest point, were unveiled on Friday in front of an audience that included Bob Friend and Dick Groat, both of whom were also integral members of that 1960 club.
Though there was some consideration to immortalizing Mazeroski's defensive achievements in the statue, the organization ultimately decided to go with the pose that has gone down in baseball lore. The statue will capture Mazeroski rounding third base after his Oct. 13 home run, hoisting his helmet high above his head in his right hand.
"You were at the center of the greatest sports moment of Pirates baseball and probably the history of Pittsburgh sports," Pirates owner Bob Nutting said to Mazeroski. "It was a moment that did more than just win a baseball game. It was a moment that has, for years, continued to inspire a city and a region about what can be done. It's a story that's passed on from generation to generation."
The statue, which will be commissioned by the same local artist who created the Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell statues that sit outside of PNC Park, will stand just off Mazeroski Way at the ballpark's right-field entrance. Just behind the statue will be a replica of second base, fitting given that Mazeroski won eight Gold Gloves playing that position.
Even further back will be a partial replica of the Forbes Field wall that will include some of the wall's original bricks. Fans who donate to the fund for the Mazeroski statue can purchase cast aluminum ivy leaves that will be engraved and placed on the brick backdrop. A smaller leaf is available for a $150 donation and a larger one is available for a $500 donation. Fans donating $25 will receive a commemorative certificate.
Friday's announcement, which included a video clip of Mazeroski's Game 7 home run, was made in front of Pirates employees, alumni, players and media members. And don't think that the moment was lost on the current players in the audience.
"Man, I get the chills every time I see that," Andrew McCutchen said of the video clip. "I hit a walk-off home run against the Phillies, and every time I see that, I get chills. To do something like that in Game 7 of the World Series and be able to win a game, I'm getting chills just watching it."
The statue is scheduled to be unveiled on Sept. 5 during a "Tribute to Maz" ceremony. That will be just one of numerous events the organization will hold this year to honor the 1960 championship club during the 50th-anniversary season.
"I had my number retired," Mazeroski said, as he closed his brief remarks to the group. "Then I went into the Hall of Fame. Then you get a street named after you. ... How can you get a better life than this? Now I get a statue. I don't know what to say after that."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.