Often unfairly credited as “the worst player in the Hall of Fame,” Bill Mazeroski is known for two things. One is his walk-off home run in the 1960 World Series. The other is his Hall of Fame defense.
Defensive players don’t get their justice when it comes to Cooperstown. Mazeroski is an all-time defender, owning a defensive WAR of 24. This number is the 23rd highest in MLB history.
I don’t want to make this into a debate about his spot in Cooperstown. Instead, let’s focus on why he’s one of the greatest Pirates to ever put on a pair of cleats.
Mazeroski spent all 17 years of his MLB career in Pittsburgh. Spanning from 1956 to 1972, he was an All-Star seven times. He also won eight Gold Gloves in his march to become one, if not, the greatest defensive second baseman in baseball history.
At the plate, Mazeroski was underwhelming. He slashed .260/.299/.367. Struggles in his final four seasons definitely dragged the totals down from an already non-fantastic level.
Even though his bat wasn’t the fattest, Mazeroski made his mark on the Pirates franchise. He won two World Series with the organization. As already stated, a home run over the left field wall in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series highlights his career.
An offensive plus, Mazeroski does rank eighth in franchise history with 2,016 hits. I suppose spending 17 years in one city will help here. To even do that, though, is an accomplishment in itself.
Whatever you think of Mazeroski and his spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame is irrelevant. He’s a true Pirate with one of MLB’s biggest hits.