Bill White (Trading Card DB)

August 14, 1960: Bill White’s cycle a bright spot for Cardinals in Pirates’ sweep

This article was written by Mike Huber

Bill White (Trading Card DB)Two months before the Pittsburgh Pirates made history by winning the 1960 World Series with Bill Mazeroski’s seventh-game, bottom-of-the-ninth, walk-off home run, they hosted the St. Louis Cardinals in a crucial five-game series. On August 11 the Pirates were first in the National League with a record of 65-40, while the second-place Cardinals were aiming to catch them.

Pittsburgh had a 5½-game lead on July 7, only to see the Milwaukee Braves draw even in the standings 17 days later. The Pirates then pushed the lead back to 5 while winning 12 of 15 games, including a three-game sweep in St. Louis.

The Cardinals soon had a surge of their own. St. Louis had been in fifth place, 10½ games back, on June 22. The Cardinals were in the middle of the pack for the next few weeks, but a 12-2 spurt between the Pirates’ late-July visit to St. Louis and the Cardinals’ mid-August trip to Forbes Field put St. Louis in second, five games back.

St. Louis won the first two games of the series in Pittsburgh. Stan Musial’s 424th career homer, a two-run blast off Bob Friend in the 12th inning, made the difference in the opener. A night later, 24-year-old Bob Gibson went the distance in the Cardinals’ 9-2 win. Pittsburgh’s lead was down to three games.

The Pirates rebounded to win, 4-1, on August 13, thanks to Roberto Clemente’s home run and four RBIs, Dick Groat’s four hits, and former Cardinal Harvey Haddix’s seven-hit complete game. The final two games were set for a Sunday afternoon doubleheader, with 36,775 fans in attendance.1

Pittsburgh rolled to a 9-4 win in the first game of the twin bill, overcoming four hits – a single, double, triple, and home run – off the bat of Cardinals first baseman Bill White.

White had signed with the New York Giants as an amateur free agent in 1953 and reached the majors in 1956. He missed all of 1957 and most of 1958 for military service, and Orlando Cepeda emerged at first for the Giants, who had relocated to San Francisco.2 Seeking to upgrade their starting rotation, the Giants dealt White to the Cardinals for veteran right-hander Sam Jones during spring training in 1959.3

The Hall of Fame-bound Musial had moved from the outfield to first base in his late 30s, so White also played in the outfield and was selected as an All-Star in 1959. By August 1960 Musial was in left and the 26-year-old White was back at first, where he received the first of seven career Gold Gloves in 1960.

A pair of right-handed All-Stars faced each other on the mound: Vern Law for the Pirates and Larry Jackson for the Cardinals.4 In fact, 13 players from the Pirates (8) and Cardinals (5) were All-Stars in 1960, including White.5 The 30-year-old Law was having the best season of his career, entering this game with a 16-5 record and a 2.75 earned-run average. He had notched 14 complete games as well. For the Cardinals, the 29-year-old Jackson was a workhorse in 1960, leading the NL with 282 innings pitched and 38 games started. His ERA so far was 3.46, and he was pitching to win his 14th game of the season.

Law allowed baserunners in every inning, but he pitched out of several jams. In the first inning, after dispatching rookie Julián Javier and Curt Flood, Law faced White, who hit a 450-foot triple to center field, extending his hitting streak to five games. Ken Boyer grounded out, though, stranding White at third.

Jackson grounded out with runners on first and second in the second. In the third, White’s two-out double and Boyer’s infield single gave Musial runners at the corners. The 39-year-old Musial popped up to first and Pittsburgh again left the field without allowing a run.

The Pirates gave Law a four-run lead in the bottom of the third inning. Bill Virdon, Groat, and Bob Skinner hit consecutive one-out singles, with Virdon – the NL Rookie of the Year with the Cardinals in 1955 – scoring on Skinner’s safety. Rocky Nelson then doubled to the scoreboard in left. Groat and Skinner scored easily, and Nelson also crossed the plate after shortstop Daryl Spencer threw the relay from the outfield into the Pirates’ dugout.

The Cardinals made a dent in Pittsburgh’s lead in the top of the fourth. With one down, Spencer singled. Catcher Hal Smith followed with his second homer of the season, a blast to deep left.6

Jackson, however, couldn’t keep the Pirates within striking distance. In the bottom of the fourth, Don Hoak led off with a single. Bill Mazeroski doubled, and after Law grounded out, Jackson loaded the bases by intentionally walking Virdon.

Groat’s double to right brought two runners home and a reliever in from the St. Louis bullpen; Ron Kline came on to pitch for Jackson. Kline, who had played for the Pirates for six seasons before being traded to the Cardinals in December 1959,7 had also pitched the night before, when he retired seven of the nine batters he faced, not allowing any runs. After reloading the bases by intentionally walking Skinner, Kline got Nelson to fly out to right, but it was deep enough to score Virdon as a sacrifice fly. The Pirates now led, 7-2.

Flood opened the fifth with a double to left. White followed with an RBI single to center, his third hit of the game, but he was forced out at second by a Boyer grounder. Musial doubled, putting two runners in scoring position. Walt Moryn grounded to shortstop Groat, who threw to second baseman Mazeroski, who in turn tagged Musial and threw to first to beat Moryn. The double play prevented Boyer’s run from counting, limiting St. Louis to just one run in the inning.8  

The Pirates answered in the home half of the fifth. Smoky Burgess doubled and scored when second baseman Javier made an error on Hoak’s grounder.

In the seventh inning, White “delivered his circuit blow,”9 his 15th homer of the season. With this round-tripper, he had hit for the cycle, but St. Louis still trailed by four runs. The Pirates scored again in the bottom of the seventh. Back-to-back two-out doubles by Law and Virdon gave the Pirates their ninth run of the game.

In the top of the ninth, White had a chance to make something happen for St. Louis, coming to the plate with two on and two out, but he grounded to Mazeroski at second, who tossed the ball to first for the final out of the game. In the losing effort, St. Louis had banged out 12 hits and left eight runners on base. Pittsburgh had 13 hits, including at least one from each player; six of their hits were doubles. Law had earned his 17th victory,10 bolstering his Cy Young Award résumé, while Jackson was tagged with his 10th defeat.11

With his 4-for-5 performance, White was the first Cardinals player to hit for the cycle since Musial accomplished the rare feat on July 24, 1949, against the Brooklyn Dodgers. This was White’s sixth four-hit game of the season and it boosted his batting average to .309. The cycle was one of many notable accomplishments by White; in 1971, the eight-time All-Star became the first Black play-by-play broadcaster for a major-league team (the New York Yankees), and in 1989, he was named president of the National League, the first Black president of a major sports league.12

White added to his hitting streak with a single in the doubleheader’s nightcap. Starters Curt Simmons (St. Louis) and Tom Cheney (Pittsburgh) each pitched well as the Pirates won, 3-2, with a walk-off run in the 11th inning.

The sweep gave the Pirates their largest lead of the season – six games over the Cardinals. Pittsburgh finished seven games ahead of the second-place Milwaukee Braves. The Cardinals came in third, nine games back.

Sunday just wasn’t the Cardinals’ day. They were swept in this doubleheader, causing the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to report that “they couldn’t get off the ground at Forbes Field.”13 Upon reaching the Pittsburgh airport to fly home for a series against the Giants, the St. Louis team literally could not get off the ground. Shortly after takeoff, one of the engines on their airplane conked out, causing the aircraft to return to Pittsburgh. The team had a delay of 3½ hours as they waited for another plane from New York to pinch-hit. Fortunately, their series opener against the Giants was a scheduled night game. Manager Solly Hemus told reporters that White was “almost late for the plane, so he must have known something.”14

In addition to covering the doubleheader sweep, newspapers across the country reported that Fred Clarke, known as “one of baseball’s greatest outfielders,”15 had died on August 14 of pneumonia. The 87-year-old Pittsburgh star had been the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He hit for the cycle twice in his 22-season career: on July 23, 1901, and on May 7, 1903.16



This article was fact-checked by Bill Marston and copy-edited by Len Levin. The author thanks John Fredland for his insightful comments. 



In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted,,, and



1 This was the Pirates’ second largest crowd of the season (to date). The four dates of the five-game series drew 131,046 patrons, reportedly the largest attendance for a series at Forbes Field. See Jack Hernon, “Buc Lead Now 6, Biggest of ’60,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sun-Telegraph, August 15, 1960: 1.

2 The Giants debuted three outstanding first basemen in a four-season span: White in 1956, Cepeda in 1958, and Willie McCovey in 1959.

3 The Giants also received Ray Jablonski, while the Cardinals also got Don Choate.

4 From 1959 through 1962, there were two All-Star Games played each year, as part of a four-season experiment. According to writer Bill Center, “Profits from the second All-Star Game went directly into the players’ pension fund under the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association.” See Bill Center, “Leagues Split Two All-Star Games Played in 1959,”, February 4, 2016, Center also wrote, “The result didn’t exactly measure up to the level of Midsummer Classics, and the dual All-Star Game experiment ended in 1962.” This season marked the only time that Law was selected to the National League’s All-Star team.

5 For the Cardinals (in addition to Larry Jackson), Ken Boyer, Lindy McDaniel, Stan Musial, and Bill White were on the All-Star team. For the Pirates (in addition to Vern Law), Smoky Burgess, Roberto Clemente, Roy Face, Bob Friend, Dick Groat, Bill Mazeroski, and Bob Skinner made the National League All-Star squad. Friend started the July 11 game, Law started the July 13 game, and Skinner and Mazeroski started both games.

6 It was the second homer of the season for Harold Raymond Smith. His namesake, Harold Wayne “Hal” Smith, was the Pirates’ starting catcher in the second game of the doubleheader.

7 In six big-league seasons from 1952 to 1959 – he spent 1953 and 1954 in the US Army during the Korean War – Kline had started 161 games (of his 212 appearances) for the Pirates, and he was traded to St. Louis on December 21, 1959, for Gino Cimoli and Tom Cheney. He was initially a member of the 1960 Cardinals’ starting rotation, but an ERA approaching six runs per game had him pitching solely out of the St. Louis bullpen by early July (he ended the season with a 6.04 mark). The Cardinals sold Kline to the Los Angeles Angels on April 10, 1961, and although he had 20 starts for the Angels and Tigers in 1961, he had just five more for the rest of his career (through June 1970, when the Atlanta Braves released him).

8 According to both Baseball-Reference and Retrosheet, Moryn hit into a fielder’s choice, with the shortstop throwing to the second baseman (6-4), but Musial is listed as being out at third. Moryn was retired 4-3.

9 Lester J. Biederman, “Pirates Soar to ‘Biggest’ Lead,” Pittsburgh Press, August 15, 1960: 22.

10 Law won his next start (August 18 against the Cincinnati Reds), giving him seven straight victories. His performance dipped a bit after that, and although he did not allow many earned runs, he earned the loss in four of his final six decisions. He finished 1960 with a 20-9 record, tied for leading the National League with 18 complete games, and he won the Cy Young Award. He had set career highs in starts (35), innings pitched (271⅔) and strikeouts (120). Law edged out fellow starters Warren Spahn (Milwaukee Braves, who also had 18 complete games, as well as 21 wins and a 3.50 ERA) and Ernie Broglio (Cardinals, 21 wins, 2.74 ERA), and ace reliever Lindy McDaniel (Cardinals, 12 wins, 27 saves, 2.09 ERA) to win the pitching honor.

11 Jackson won five of his last eight decisions, finishing the season with a record of 18-13. He pitched eight seasons for the Cardinals before being traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1962, and, except for his rookie campaign, did not post a losing record.

12 Warren Corbett, “Bill White,” SABR Biography Project.

13 Neal Russo, “Bucs Lead By 6 Games After 9-4, 3-2 Wins,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1960: 14.

14 Russo.

15 “Fred Clarke, Hall Of Famer, Dies in Kansas,” Lebanon (Pennsylvania) Daily News, August 15, 1960: 10.

16 Possibly Clarke’s greatest achievement as player-manager came in 1909 when the Pirates, led by Clarke and Honus Wagner, defeated Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Clarke had two home runs in that fall classic. The 1909 Pirates team set a team record by winning 110 games (against 42 losses). That was second most ever by a National League team, after the 1906 Chicago Cubs (116-36, .763). In 1902, Clarke’s third season as Pirates skipper, Pittsburgh won the pennant with a record of 103-36-3 (.741). After he retired from playing, Clarke named teammate Honus Wagner as the greatest baseball player in history, declaring, “He had no weakness.” See “Fred Clarke Dead; Led Pirates to Four Pennants in 16 Years,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1960: 14.

Additional Stats

Pittsburgh Pirates 9
St. Louis Cardinals 4
Game 1, DH

Forbes Field
Pittsburgh, PA


Box Score + PBP:

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