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Forbes Field wall marred by graffiti

Vandals desecrate remaining portion of Buc 'monument'

Wednesday, May 13, 1998

By John M.R. Bull, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Bill Mazeroski wrote his name into the record books when he hit the game-winning home run over the wall in Forbes Field in the 1960 World Seres.

Now some hooligans are writing on his wall.

Spray painted graffiti covers parts of the back of The Wall, a portion of which remains standing next to the University of Pittsburgh campus.

To die-hard baseball fans, this is sacrilege.

An empty can of Krylon spray paint was found at the base of the wall yesterday. Crushed beer cans were nearby. A fraying paper bag covered an empty bottle of Olde English 800 malt liquor.

This may border on desecration.

This isn't just any wall. This is the wall cleared by a ball hit by Mazeroski on Oct. 13, 1960, at 3:36 p.m. in the ninth inning of the last game of the World Series.

The hit won the Pittsburgh Pirates their first World Series in 35 years. Pittsburghers still talk about where they were that day. In 1995, three men treked to The Wall on the anniversary of Mazeroski's hit and played a taped broadcast of the game.

The Wall is owned by the city, taken when the field was demolished in 1971. Cleanup of the graffiti probably will come quickly.

"We've had people already look at it," said Craig Kwiecinski, Mayor Murphy's spokesman. "It's just a matter of time before they get to it. The problem is there is only so many graffiti dollars to go around."

Although some Pitt students said yesterday that there had been a recent outbreak of graffiti, campus police said there was no more vandalism or graffiti on campus than usual, reported Ron Cichowicz, university spokesman.

"I think it is a shame," Kelli Kanhofer, 27, a Pitt alumnus and career advisor for the university, said of the scrawlings. "I think it is great they still have that wall here. It adds a nostalgic charm. It's a shame someone cannot respect that."

The front of the wall is ivy covered. It is surrounded by a nicely landscaped terrace that spreads toward nearby Mervis Hall. Stately maple trees tower over the wall.

The back of the wall, where the graffiti has been placed, faces a Little League ballfield named Mazeroski Field, which is owned by the city.

"They probably didn't know it was The Wall," said Arpad Sooky, 19, a Pitt history of art major who also didn't know it was The Wall.

"Most people don't have a clue it is a historic monument," said Sooky, who walks by The Wall probably three times a day and grew up in Oakland. "I just think they didn't know. They spray-paint everywhere."

There is no plaque, no monument, no marker to identify The Wall's significance.

The only clues can be found in two places near the base, where the ivy has been pruned to show the markings "436 Foot" and "457 Foot." That would be the distance from home plate.

"I thought it was elevation or something," Sooky said.

If caught, whoever spray painted the wall could be fined, charged for the cleanup and ordered to perform community service. If the offenders are juveniles, their parents could be forced to pay the cost of cleanup under a graffiti law toughened by City Council last year.

"This was probably just an open wall and a place to leave their mark," said Stephen Haluszczak, who works at the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors. "I've seen it everywhere."

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