Remembering Don Panoz's first home run

Image by Michael Levitt/LAT

Remembering Don Panoz's first home run

IMSA

Remembering Don Panoz's first home run

58 years ago to this very day, Pittsburgh Pirates’ second baseman Bill Mazeroski, previously known more for his artistry with a baseball glove than a bat, lofted a pitch from the New York Yankees’ Ralph Terry over the left field wall at Forbes Field in the bottom of the ninth inning to break a 9-9 tie and win the seventh and deciding game of the 1960 World Series for the home team.

Dramatic though it may have been, motorsports buffs may well ask, what this iconic moment in baseball history has to do with today’s 21st Motul Petit Le Mans.

The answer is: Plenty. In the days following the World Series victory celebration — and thanks in part to the Pirates’ quirky/larger-than-life TV and radio announcer Bob Prince, who provided some critical introductions — a fellow who owned a couple of pharmacies in Pittsburgh convinced “Maz” and several of his teammates to invest a portion of their World Series bonuses (a cool $5,000 apiece) in his start-up pharmaceutical company. That company was Milan Pharmaceuticals (later Mylan) and that “fellow” was Don Panoz.

Panoz (pictured above at Petit Le Mans last year with one of the many innovative cars to bear his name) would head the Mylan research group that invented and perfected the transdermal patch commonly used by those looking to break their cigarette smoking habit and, of course, go on to found the American Le Mans Series and Petit Le Mans.

Sadly, of course, Panoz passed away in September at the age of 83. But it is an understatement to say he impacted the lives of countless people around the world and left an indelible mark on the sport of auto racing . . . with a little help from Mazeroski and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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