It might seem crazy to put this home run over all of the other tremendous game-winning plays in sports history. But we do, and here's why.
First of all, how truly great is a game-winning field goal? Think about every game-winning field goal you have ever seen: The offense conservatively drives down the field, managing clock and field position. The quarterback does not ask too much of himself—just enough to get the ball to where it needs to be. Then, the clock is milked so that there is just enough time to kick the ball as time expires. Finally, the kicker—the least athletic figure in sports—comes out and does the only thing we ask of him.
Second of all, how amazing is it when Joe Montana or Derek Jeter or Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky delivers with the game on the line? These guys are superhuman; they're better than the rest of us. We get it. And the 49ers, the Yankees, the Bulls, the Celtics, the Lakers, the Oilers—they are super teams. The best players, the best coaches, the best franchises, the best fans.
Now, imagine, if you will: in one corner, the New York Yankees, the greatest franchise in the history of professional sports. You know the roster even if you don't know you know it: Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Whitey Ford, Bob Turley, Bobby Shantz, Casey effing Stengel!
It is 1960. It is October. This is the Yankees' time, Pinstripe Power, the Bronx Bombers.
In the other corner, the Pittsburgh Pirates: a team that has not been to the playoffs in 33 years. Just happy to be there, to have the honor of losing to the best team in sports.
Coming into Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, the Yankees had outscored the Pirates by a shocking score of 46-17 yet had split the six games of the series. Coming into the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 7, the Pirates trailed the Yankees 7-4 but scored five runs to take a 9-7 lead—only to allow the Yankees to tie the game at 9-9 going into the bottom of the ninth.
And so it was that in that bottom of the ninth inning, Bill Mazeroski—the tiniest and unlikeliest hero of them all—delivered the biggest home run in sports history to topple the mighty New York Yankees (for one year at least) and deliver the underdog Pirates the unlikeliest championship of all.