We, my family, were rooting for Houston because they’ve had floods, hurricanes, murders and everything else. I thought it was wonderful for the city to be able to celebrate something. —Vern Law
ST. GEORGE — Cy Young Award winner Vernon Law can relate to the world champion Houston Astros. He was pulling for the Astros to take down the Los Angeles Dodgers this past week in the World Series.
He also praised Game 5 as one for the ages and believes, in his pitcher’s heart, there must have been something fishy with the balls used in the series.
“I thought it was a great series between two great teams,” said Law, of Provo, who, at age 87, was playing in the Dixie Celebrity Classic this weekend at Sun Brook Golf Club.
The 2017 World Series reminds Law of the matchup in 1960, his year of Series fame and lore.
“One team had a history (Dodgers), and the other didn’t. In 1960, we (Pittsburgh) hadn’t won anything since 1923, and, finally, we put something together,” he said.
Like Houston with its oil worker base, Pittsburgh is a steel mill city. Like the Los Angles Dodgers with movie stars and the famous sitting in the stands, the Yankees had Broadway and Madison Avenue, Times Square, and stars Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra.
The Yankees were supposed to sweep the Pirates in four games.
“We, my family, were rooting for Houston because they’ve had floods, hurricanes, murders and everything else. I thought it was wonderful for the city to be able to celebrate something.”
Law remains a very big figure, larger than life. He is still a humble, kindhearted personality with huge mitt-like hands and an easy smile. Once a humble farm boy from Idaho, he remains such to all he is around. He’s a national treasure.
And that Game 5 Houston win?
Law loved it, although, from a pitcher’s standpoint, he thought it was crazy at times. “It was absolutely something. You don’t see people respond like that. People sure got their money’s worth; it was very exciting. Two runs down and somebody steps up and hits two-run homer or something.”
Law didn’t like the pitchers taking so much heat in Game 5. “I don’t know, but I’m not so sure they didn’t juice up the ball. When can a little guy (Jose Altuve) step up and hit it into the upper deck? It’s suspicious. Some of the pitchers were complaining about the ball being slick, that it didn’t feel the same.”
Law, who pitched 16 years in the Majors, was involved in one of the most storied seventh games in World Series history. He sees similarities with the Astros as to what his Pittsburgh Pirates were up against in 1960 when he played a major role in taking down the glamorous New York Yankees.
That game had four lead changes and is the only Game 7 with just one strikeout. There were 19 runs and 24 hits. It was tied until Bill Mazeroski hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth.
fans rush onto the field toward Pittsburgh Pirates' Bill Mazeroski as he comes home on his Game 7-ending home run in the ninth inning to win the World Series against the New York Yankees in Pittsburgh. | Associated Press
Law is credited with winning two 1960 World Series games and had a 4-1 lead in Game 7 when manager Danny Murtaugh replaced him with Roy Face because Law was fighting a serious ankle injury and the manager thought he couldn’t finish.
Law to this day wishes Murtaugh had left him in and had the chance for a third series win — an elite club. One of his most famous quotes is: “A winner never quits and a quitter never wins.”
Face came in. “As soon as they figured out Face (a forkball thrower), was moving the ball back in his glove, Yogi Berra hit a three-run homer off him. If they only hadn’t taken me out of the picture but it all turned out well.”
Law visits New York often and tells Yankee fans it wasn’t their players who lost Game 7 but their manager, Casey Stengel.
“He had Whitey Ford in the bullpen, and we hadn’t done anything against him and he didn’t put him in.”
Pittsburgh still celebrates Law and the 1960 team. Law, who was nicknamed “The Deacon,” because of his devout life as a Mormon, returns to Pittsburgh often for signings and appearances.
“On October 6, the day we clinched it, people still gather where old Forbes Field was located, now part of the (University of Pittsburgh). The pitcher’s mound and home plate are in the library. Outside, near a brick wall, crowds gather and listen to a radio broadcast of that game, and they have their little bottles and cheer and yell. It’s crazy.”
Law remains a legend, a part of baseball lore. He can be seen pulling a cart with his clubs with some friends three or four times a week in Provo’s East Bay or Hobble Creek, getting in one of his nine-hole rounds.
“At 87, I have to keep moving because, if I sit down, you never know what might happen.”