Kiss It Good-bye: The Mystery, the Mormon, and the Moral of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates was a trip down memory lane for me. Moody grew up in the Pittsburgh area in the late 50s and early 60s and relates how the city and especially the Pittsburgh Pirates influenced his life. This is such an easy concept to which I can easily relate. I spent most Sunday afternoons at Forbes Field watching double headers with my family. My mother would pack us a picnic lunch/dinner (usually ham salad sandwiches and potato salad, cookies and lemonade) and we would make a day and sometimes an evening out of it if a game would go into extra innings. Those were the days when you could bring food into a ballpark and not have to worry about having your children hear inappropriate language. It didn't matter that the Pirates were a horrible team, they were our city's baseball team and we knew all the player stats and had our own family favorites. My brother loved Bob Skinner, my dad, Bill Virdon, Mom's was Dick Groat and mine was Bill Mazeroski. We kept score for every game we saw and loved the Bucs. When we weren't at Forbes Field we sat on our patio and listened to Bob Prince and Jim Woods on the radio as he announced the games. We all knew his nicknames for the players, his signature phrases and most of all we enjoyed the way his excitement became ours.
In Moody's book we are able to relive this era as the author tells the story through the eyes of Vernon Law, the Cy Young winner of 1960. Law, the ace pitcher of the team, is a devout Mormon who distanced himself from alcohol and profane language. He was recruited by a member of the Pirate Board of Directors - Bing Crosby. The mystery is the accident that happened on the plane after the Pirates clinched the pennant in Milwaukee. Many of the Pirates were drunk that evening and celebrating, during the course of which Law's ankle was hurt. This change the course of the rest of the season and World Series. It had never been revealed who had been responsible for the injury until the publication of this book.
The desire of Danny Murtaugh, Law and the Pirates that year was to bring a pennant to the long suffering city. Their resurgence was a parallel to the renaissance that the city was experiencing. It was through hard work and a few instances of luck that this happened. It was then that they should bring a World Series title to complete the year. But against the Yankees? Anyone who grew up in Pittsburgh at that time knows the rest of the story and the joy that was felt when Mazeroski hit the 9th inning home run. For many of us, we didn't have voices to scream at that point because of Hal Smith's tying home run the inning before. October 13, 1960 was a glorious day.
Throughout the book are those remembrances from days gone by: Ed and Wendy King's Partyline and the nightly Party Pretzel, the Jenkins Arcade, Pittsburghese galore, and often forgotten Pirates like Gino Cimoli, Ducky Schofield, and Rocky Nelson. It was an uplifting read for the middle of a most dismal baseball season for Pirate fans. Maybe the present day owners should look to the past and see how to bring a team back. Surely there is another Murtaugh and Joe L. Brown out there who can work a little magic for us. Please.......