Vern Law regretfully tells how Roberto Clemente refused to wear his 1960 World Series Championship ring as a protest because he didn’t receive the 1960 National League Most Valuable Player Award. It was given to his teammate, Dick Groat.
In an interview with WKXL’s Chris Ryan, Vern “The Deacon” Law, an outstanding pitcher for the Pittsburg Pirates, talks about his playing career, his interactions with Bing Crosby, and relives Game Seven of the 1960 World Series. His career was from 1950-51 and 1954-67. Law was a two time All Star, won one World Series Championship, and one Cy Young Award. He had a career won-loss record of 162-147 with a career ERA of 3.77 and 1,092 strike outs. Vern Law was called Deacon or Preacher by his teammates because he was a devout Mormon. He turned 90 years old in March.
In 1948, Vernon Law was a hard throwing farm boy from Meridien, Idaho when he was signed by the Pirates. A number of major league teams tried to sign Vern Law; but Bing Crosby, who was a part owner of the Pirates called while Pittsburg was making its presentation. Vern’s mother was so impressed about Bing Crosby that Vern became a Pirate. In the interview, he describes how never really had any coaching until he got to the Pirates Minor League team in Davenport, Iowa. He just reared back and threw strikes. He didn’t know anything about mechanics or strategy. He made his major league debut in 1950. During the Korean War, he was drafted into the army from 1950-54.
The era when Vern Law pitched—the 50s and 60s—was a Golden Age of Baseball. He describes his respect for Jackie Robinson as a player and as a man of courage with an incredible strength of character. When he rejoined the Pirates in 1954, they were a bad team with a bad mix of bitter old, over the hill players and young guys with potential and not much experience. Gradually, the team improved with the arrival of Danny Murtagh as manager and Hall of Fame ballplayers like shortstop, Dick Groat; second baseman, Bill Mazeroski; and right fielder, Roberto Clemente. Vern Law describes the many skills and attributes of Roberto Clemente. Vern Law regretfully tells how Roberto Clemente refused to wear his 1960 World Series Championship ring as a protest because he didn’t receive the 1960 National League Most Valuable Player Award. It was given to his teammate, Dick Groat.
Vern Law’s recollections and observations about the 1960 World Series and game seven, in particular, are very animated. The New York Yankees had a great team with speed, power, and great pitching. They had a legendary, Hall of Fame manager in Casey Stengel and players like: Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford. The three Yankee victories were laughers (16-3, 10-0, and 12-0). The four games won by the Pirates were close (6-4, 3-2, 5-2, and 10-9). Vern Law, who won Games 1 and 4 and started Game 7, sums it up like this, “I say that the Yankees didn’t lose the World Series. Casey Stengel lost the World Series.” Vern Law analyzes the many blunders by Stengel, mostly about his not using his best pitcher, the Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford. When the Pirates clinched the National League Pennant, Law injured his right ankle in the celebration. He injured his shoulder when he continued to pitch during the series. Game 7, like the rest of the series, seesawed back and forth with each team with the climax being Bill Mazeroski hitting the only Game 7 walk off home run in World Series history.
In the last part of the interview, Vern Law talks about the many good pitchers against whom he competed, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Don Drysdale. He also describes the toughest hitters that he faced Stan Musial and Hank Aaron. Vern Law also discusses the unwritten rules for throwing at opposing batters.