Team: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1956-1972
Bill Mazeroski earned the nickname
"No Touch" because of how quick
he was at turning the double play.
Mazeroski (born 1936) played second base for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1956 to 1972. Or rather, he redefined second base play. His combination of range, hands, quickness, and instinct was superior to that of any other big-leaguer at his position.
During Mazeroski's prime, he was considered the best defensive middle infielder in the game. He won eight Gold Gloves and made six All-Star squads. He led the NL in fielding percentage three times and paced the league five times in putouts, nine times in assists, and eight times in double plays. He participated in 161 DPs in 1966, a 20th century record for a second baseman in a single season, and holds the lifetime second base record with 1,706.
While Mazeroski lacked speed, he was a wizard around the bag. Bill James wrote that Mazeroski had a double-play pivot "the like of which no one living has ever seen." He was so good at second that it was unthinkable to take him out of the lineup even if he wasn't hitting.
Maz wasn't always a productive offensive player. Only once did he bat above .275. He didn't run well, he drew few walks, and his career on-base percentage was a poor .299. However, he did tally six seasons of double-digit homers--and he collected more than 2,000 lifetime hits. In addition, he rarely struck out and was an above average bunter.
To his defense, Maz played in Forbes Field, a tough hitter's park for a right-hander because of its very deep left field fence. Had he toiled almost anywhere else, he might have reached 20 homers several times.
Given his brilliance in the field, and his lack of the same at the plate, it is ironic that the hardscrabble, tobacco-chewing West Virginian's greatest moment came with a bat in his hands.
Mazeroski connected for the most important home run in Pirates history, a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. Bill's drive off the Yankees' Ralph Terry soared over Forbes Field's left field wall, sending Pittsburgh into a state of delirium and etching his place in baseball history. The round-tripper gave the Bucs a 10-9 win and their first Series title since 1925.
And, just as important for Mazeroski, the homer was a signature event on which to hang his career. It clearly helped pave the road for his eventual enshrinement into Cooperstown, which occurred in 2001, nearly 30 years after his retirement.
Here are Bill Mazeroski's major league totals:
|BA||G ||AB||R||H||2B ||3B||HR ||RBI ||SB |
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