Kiss It Good-Bye
On January 28, 2010 | 18 Comments

Fifty Year Baseball Mystery Revealed

At last, in Kiss It Good-bye: The Mystery, The Mormon, and the Moral of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates (Shadow Mountain, $24.99, releasing March 2009) the sports world will find out what caused a superstar major league pitcher, possibly en route to Cooperstown, to suddenly lose his dominance over the batters he faced.

In 1960, an upstart Pittsburgh Pirates team beat the vastly superior New York Yankees in the World Series. With a Yankee roster including Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Yogi Berra, that improbable victory did more than give Pirates fans something to cheer about; it put Pittsburgh on the map.

Though Kiss It Good-bye author John Moody was only six years old during that magical baseball season, he was a devoted fan of the Pittsburgh team. The star pitcher for the Pirates and John’s first sports hero was Vernon Law, an unsophisticated Idaho country boy, widely known as The Deacon, a friendly nickname derived from his strict Mormon upbringing.

Law was a relatively young man at the time and should have enjoyed several more seasons of fame and success, yet his career went into decline following that phenomenal Series.

But the book is more than just another exposé. This is about a real sports hero:  Vernon Law – a man of integrity. Recalling a distant time in American sports, Kiss It Good-bye contains a universal theme: a son’s affection for his father and the bond that was forged between them because of their love of baseball.

 

 

About the Author

Not content to hang around suburban Pittsburgh forever, John Moody lived and worked in New York, Moscow, Paris, Bonn, Warsaw, Mexico, Costa Rica and Rome, among other places. He helped start the Fox News Channel and now works for its parent company, News Corporation.

He co-wrote The Priest Who had to Die, and is the author of Moscow Magician, a novel, and Pope John Paul II, a biography.

After all his world travels, he’s still proud to come from Pittsburgh.

Comments18
Daniel DeSantis Posted March 28, 2010 at11:57 pm  

Excellent book. I grew up near Pittsburgh in the same period as Mr. Moody.
I remember a lot from that season, but there was a lot I couldn’t have known until I read the book. The cause of Vernon Law’s ankle injury really surprised me. There were inaccuracies in some of the photographs, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a great team and a great season.

Daniel DeSantis Posted March 28, 2010 at11:57 pm  

Excellent book. I grew up near Pittsburgh in the same period as Mr. Moody.
I remember a lot from that season, but there was a lot I couldn’t have known until I read the book. The cause of Vernon Law’s ankle injury really surprised me. There were inaccuracies in some of the photographs, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a great team and a great season.

June R. Bennett Posted April 12, 2010 at6:46 pm  

To John Moody——-

October 13, 1960 I was in the Albany General Hospital visiting my seven year old son, Bill Reed, who was recovering from a serious strep throat infecion that had swollen the uvula which almost shut off oxygen to his brain. So he was in a steam room with no television. Since he was “out of the woods”, I HAD to make periodic appearances in the solarium to catch bits of The Game! I was an “out of my mind” misplaced Pirate fan from Pittsburgh. Every time I went back to his room, I had to don a new mask and a clean white gown, and every time I rushed to the solarium, the interns and nurses would say, “Here she comes again; get her a stretcher”!

Obviously, I was in Yankee territory. I had flown my Pirate pennant from my flagpole all week, while my neighbors bet very heavily on the enemy and kidded me unmercifully. At the hospital the tension that day was palpable, and I even had unkind thoughts for the little boy with a bandaged head banging on a drum every time the Yanks scored. I never wanted to be in Pittsburgh so badly as when Maz sent that beautiful home run that has gone down in baseball history. When I called my dear father to burble about the win, I found out he got so nervous he couldn’t watch it; got in his car (radio off) and drove out to the “country”, and didn’t know the outcome till he got home. I said, “Oh ye of little faith”!

I just wanted to thank you for KISS IT GOODBYE! You brought everything back so vividly that I was nervously hanging on to every pitch even though I knew the beautiful outcome. And it was wonderful to learn the Vern Law story. (I and many of my family are Mormons; but not then.) I loved your description of my “dirty” town. What you said was true that we didn’t know the difference. I thought everybody came home from school with “high water rings”, and home from town with grey, rather than white, gloves. I believe the Pittsbutgh women had to be the cleanest anywhere. My mother cleaned constantly, and twice a year scrubbed all the painted walls, and used “silly putty” cleaner on the wallpaper. The black soot stood out proudly on the clean white window sills in our pretty North Hills home. And I felt a sense of pride when I’d walk over the 6th Street bridge and see the beautiful tall, but smoke coated buildings. When I moved to New York, my neighbors thought I was strange because I cleaned all the time.

Now my kids are waiting for turns at your book. A friend also who has the video of the game is anxious to read it. I’ll want to see it again since I know more about the game and the players from you.

Just great! Thanks again.

June R. Bennett
22 Stonybrook Trail,
Kinnelon, NJ 07405
(973) 838 – 2629

June R. Bennett Posted April 12, 2010 at6:46 pm  

To John Moody——-

October 13, 1960 I was in the Albany General Hospital visiting my seven year old son, Bill Reed, who was recovering from a serious strep throat infecion that had swollen the uvula which almost shut off oxygen to his brain. So he was in a steam room with no television. Since he was “out of the woods”, I HAD to make periodic appearances in the solarium to catch bits of The Game! I was an “out of my mind” misplaced Pirate fan from Pittsburgh. Every time I went back to his room, I had to don a new mask and a clean white gown, and every time I rushed to the solarium, the interns and nurses would say, “Here she comes again; get her a stretcher”!

Obviously, I was in Yankee territory. I had flown my Pirate pennant from my flagpole all week, while my neighbors bet very heavily on the enemy and kidded me unmercifully. At the hospital the tension that day was palpable, and I even had unkind thoughts for the little boy with a bandaged head banging on a drum every time the Yanks scored. I never wanted to be in Pittsburgh so badly as when Maz sent that beautiful home run that has gone down in baseball history. When I called my dear father to burble about the win, I found out he got so nervous he couldn’t watch it; got in his car (radio off) and drove out to the “country”, and didn’t know the outcome till he got home. I said, “Oh ye of little faith”!

I just wanted to thank you for KISS IT GOODBYE! You brought everything back so vividly that I was nervously hanging on to every pitch even though I knew the beautiful outcome. And it was wonderful to learn the Vern Law story. (I and many of my family are Mormons; but not then.) I loved your description of my “dirty” town. What you said was true that we didn’t know the difference. I thought everybody came home from school with “high water rings”, and home from town with grey, rather than white, gloves. I believe the Pittsbutgh women had to be the cleanest anywhere. My mother cleaned constantly, and twice a year scrubbed all the painted walls, and used “silly putty” cleaner on the wallpaper. The black soot stood out proudly on the clean white window sills in our pretty North Hills home. And I felt a sense of pride when I’d walk over the 6th Street bridge and see the beautiful tall, but smoke coated buildings. When I moved to New York, my neighbors thought I was strange because I cleaned all the time.

Now my kids are waiting for turns at your book. A friend also who has the video of the game is anxious to read it. I’ll want to see it again since I know more about the game and the players from you.

Just great! Thanks again.

June R. Bennett
22 Stonybrook Trail,
Kinnelon, NJ 07405
(973) 838 – 2629

Randall Tenor Posted May 2, 2010 at2:15 pm  

I am a native of Beaver Falls, Pa, in Beaver County, a sports area of high quality in its own right. I am a baby boomer, some nine years older than Mr. Moody. Fortuately, once you got north of the Ohio River, the pollution issue really did not exist until you got up to New Castle, Pa. But I digress. I found one obvious error in the otherwise wonderfuly book about Vernon Law. The first was that Danny Murtaugh was not from Easton. He was from Chester,Pa. If Mr. Moody has any evidence that Danny Murtaugh ever lived in Easton, I would appreciate knowing it. This was on page 5 of Kiss it Good-Bye. The second issue, I won’t say error, is the comment that Mazeroski replaced Curt Roberts. I would ask why Johnny O’Brien was not mentioned. I personally saw Johnny O’Brien play. Later, the Pirates got old timer, Spook Jacobs, who is not mentioned either, and it was he, not Roberts or O’Brien, that Mazeroski replaced. This fact is well known and should have been noted in the book. In more recent trivia related to brothers, when the LaRoches both played for the Pirates, it was noted that it was first time that the Pirates had two brothers in their lineup at the same time since Eddie and Johnny O’Brien played for he Pirates. Additionally, I am never comfortable with Wikipeida as a source, and when it is used, there should be more detail. I also think the bibliography should have more detailed and to the pages and date of publication at least for the newspapers and magazines.On page 219 there is mention of 25 years before 9/11. If my math is right that would be 1976 and Prince had been replaced by Milo Hamilton by that time, so the incident to which refernce was made, had to have been beforet that time. Oveall, I liked the nostalgia of the book. I might mention, if Mr. Moody, reads this that my mother went to Dr.Perlow at the Jenkins Arcade. Anyway I liked the book overall. Randall Tenor

Randall Tenor Posted May 2, 2010 at2:15 pm  

I am a native of Beaver Falls, Pa, in Beaver County, a sports area of high quality in its own right. I am a baby boomer, some nine years older than Mr. Moody. Fortuately, once you got north of the Ohio River, the pollution issue really did not exist until you got up to New Castle, Pa. But I digress. I found one obvious error in the otherwise wonderfuly book about Vernon Law. The first was that Danny Murtaugh was not from Easton. He was from Chester,Pa. If Mr. Moody has any evidence that Danny Murtaugh ever lived in Easton, I would appreciate knowing it. This was on page 5 of Kiss it Good-Bye. The second issue, I won’t say error, is the comment that Mazeroski replaced Curt Roberts. I would ask why Johnny O’Brien was not mentioned. I personally saw Johnny O’Brien play. Later, the Pirates got old timer, Spook Jacobs, who is not mentioned either, and it was he, not Roberts or O’Brien, that Mazeroski replaced. This fact is well known and should have been noted in the book. In more recent trivia related to brothers, when the LaRoches both played for the Pirates, it was noted that it was first time that the Pirates had two brothers in their lineup at the same time since Eddie and Johnny O’Brien played for he Pirates. Additionally, I am never comfortable with Wikipeida as a source, and when it is used, there should be more detail. I also think the bibliography should have more detailed and to the pages and date of publication at least for the newspapers and magazines.On page 219 there is mention of 25 years before 9/11. If my math is right that would be 1976 and Prince had been replaced by Milo Hamilton by that time, so the incident to which refernce was made, had to have been beforet that time. Oveall, I liked the nostalgia of the book. I might mention, if Mr. Moody, reads this that my mother went to Dr.Perlow at the Jenkins Arcade. Anyway I liked the book overall. Randall Tenor

Bill Emanuel Posted May 2, 2010 at9:11 pm  

My brother was good enough to send me your book. I also grew up in Pittsburgh – North Side, St. Francis Xavier ( Sisiters of Mercy ), North Catholic ( Marianist Brothers ). In 1960 I was a Senior in the Engineering program at Pitt. I found an ideal location in the Cathedral of Learning to watch the home games. I could onle see the right half of the Forbes Field. Your book brought back a lot of memories of Pittsburgh and the Pirates. My dad and I used to listen to both the Pirates and the Steelers.
Until 1960 – not much to brag about. I am now retired and living in Phoenix, but I will always be a Pittsburgh Fan.
I have a suggestion, please send a book to ” Big Ben “. If he reads and understands the book, it would be more beneficial to him, then a 4 to 6 game suspensuion.

Sincerely,
Bill Emanuel

Bill Emanuel Posted May 2, 2010 at9:11 pm  

My brother was good enough to send me your book. I also grew up in Pittsburgh – North Side, St. Francis Xavier ( Sisiters of Mercy ), North Catholic ( Marianist Brothers ). In 1960 I was a Senior in the Engineering program at Pitt. I found an ideal location in the Cathedral of Learning to watch the home games. I could onle see the right half of the Forbes Field. Your book brought back a lot of memories of Pittsburgh and the Pirates. My dad and I used to listen to both the Pirates and the Steelers.
Until 1960 – not much to brag about. I am now retired and living in Phoenix, but I will always be a Pittsburgh Fan.
I have a suggestion, please send a book to ” Big Ben “. If he reads and understands the book, it would be more beneficial to him, then a 4 to 6 game suspensuion.

Sincerely,
Bill Emanuel

Frank Miller Posted May 12, 2010 at12:44 am  

I just finished reading KISS IT GOODBYE! and it brought back many memories of that golden time in Pittsburgh when as a lad of 10 Beat em Bucs was our song. All those Pirate players were our heros and will always remain in our hearts for bringing us so much joy in 1960. John did a great job with this book and it was well written it turned back the clock for me. Vernon Law was someone you had to admire for his courage and convictions. Thank you Deacon for a job well done. John again thank you for the memories and insight of that magicial team the 1960 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

Frank Miller Posted May 12, 2010 at12:44 am  

I just finished reading KISS IT GOODBYE! and it brought back many memories of that golden time in Pittsburgh when as a lad of 10 Beat em Bucs was our song. All those Pirate players were our heros and will always remain in our hearts for bringing us so much joy in 1960. John did a great job with this book and it was well written it turned back the clock for me. Vernon Law was someone you had to admire for his courage and convictions. Thank you Deacon for a job well done. John again thank you for the memories and insight of that magicial team the 1960 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

Dave Klene Posted May 19, 2010 at9:17 pm  

I attended Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon) from 1957 to 1961. My home was Hannibal, Mo. and I was a serious Cardinal fan when I got to Pittsburgh. As time went by and I got to more and more games, I became a serious Pirate fan. Carnegie was fairly close to Forbes Field, and I could often hear the roar of the crowd in my dorm room. I followed the Pirates closely the summer of 1960 as well as I could from Missouri. I couldn’t wait to get back to Pittsburgh when college started so I could go to Pirate games. I remember well watching the 7th game in my dorm’s rec room and then heading downtown for the celebration. After graduation and returning to Missouri, I would tell people that “All I learned in college was the Pirate lineup.” This book brought back a lot of fond memories.

Something that I remember reading or hearing on TV or radio the day or two after the series was that Kubeck was hospitalized for observation the night of his throat injury and that the only Pirate player that went to see him was Vernon Law. No surprise after reading this great book.

Dave Klene

P.S. I’m back to being a serious Cardinal fan even though I’ve lived in Kansas quite a few years

Dave Klene Posted May 19, 2010 at9:17 pm  

I attended Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon) from 1957 to 1961. My home was Hannibal, Mo. and I was a serious Cardinal fan when I got to Pittsburgh. As time went by and I got to more and more games, I became a serious Pirate fan. Carnegie was fairly close to Forbes Field, and I could often hear the roar of the crowd in my dorm room. I followed the Pirates closely the summer of 1960 as well as I could from Missouri. I couldn’t wait to get back to Pittsburgh when college started so I could go to Pirate games. I remember well watching the 7th game in my dorm’s rec room and then heading downtown for the celebration. After graduation and returning to Missouri, I would tell people that “All I learned in college was the Pirate lineup.” This book brought back a lot of fond memories.

Something that I remember reading or hearing on TV or radio the day or two after the series was that Kubeck was hospitalized for observation the night of his throat injury and that the only Pirate player that went to see him was Vernon Law. No surprise after reading this great book.

Dave Klene

P.S. I’m back to being a serious Cardinal fan even though I’ve lived in Kansas quite a few years

Chuck Dougall Posted May 22, 2010 at1:33 pm  

My wife gave me KISS IT GOOD-BYE for my recent birthday, my 75th. I enjoyed it.

On October 13, 1960, I watched the Mazeroski home run on a TV located in the board of directors room of the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. There was just a skeleton crew at the office as top management was at Forbes Field. Iron City Beer was one of 3 TV sponsors of the Pirates and 1960 was a very exciting time to be employed at Iron City. I was fortunate to have been given one of the company tickets to see a world series game; unfortunately it was game 6 – October 12 – the Yankee 12-0 shutout.

Chuck Dougall Posted May 22, 2010 at1:33 pm  

My wife gave me KISS IT GOOD-BYE for my recent birthday, my 75th. I enjoyed it.

On October 13, 1960, I watched the Mazeroski home run on a TV located in the board of directors room of the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. There was just a skeleton crew at the office as top management was at Forbes Field. Iron City Beer was one of 3 TV sponsors of the Pirates and 1960 was a very exciting time to be employed at Iron City. I was fortunate to have been given one of the company tickets to see a world series game; unfortunately it was game 6 – October 12 – the Yankee 12-0 shutout.

charley buck Posted June 10, 2010 at8:08 pm  

I loved this book!! What fun to recall that time in my life and that wonderful season with the Bucs. I was a senior in high school in the fall of 1960 and a serious baseball fan. I remember that ‘home plate’ was proudly displayed in our local barber shop after the series. Thank you so much Mr. Moody for writing this book.

charley buck Posted June 10, 2010 at8:08 pm  

I loved this book!! What fun to recall that time in my life and that wonderful season with the Bucs. I was a senior in high school in the fall of 1960 and a serious baseball fan. I remember that ‘home plate’ was proudly displayed in our local barber shop after the series. Thank you so much Mr. Moody for writing this book.

Richard Moss Posted August 23, 2010 at1:02 am  

Loved your book. It brought back many memories of growing up in the Pittsburgh suburbs of the 50s & 60s. I also noted the reference to Danny Murtaugh’s birthplace. It’s Chester. I don’t want to nitpick, but on page 177 it is implied that 1959 was Murtaugh’s first full season as manager when it was 1958 a season I remember very well. It was the first season I followed the team from April to September.

Richard Moss Posted August 23, 2010 at1:02 am  

Loved your book. It brought back many memories of growing up in the Pittsburgh suburbs of the 50s & 60s. I also noted the reference to Danny Murtaugh’s birthplace. It’s Chester. I don’t want to nitpick, but on page 177 it is implied that 1959 was Murtaugh’s first full season as manager when it was 1958 a season I remember very well. It was the first season I followed the team from April to September.

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