Saturday, June 4, 2011


It’s hard to believe that Scooter has been gone for almost four years. As Yankee legends go, Phil Rizzuto was the crème de la crème of New York Yankees Baseball History.

Phil’s baseball career lasted 13 years, of all which he played in pinstripes. He was a 5-time All-Star, and with 1217 career double plays, arguably one of the best shortstops in MLB history. His fielding was outstanding, and he was best known for his strong infield defense. But, he was also an excellent clutch hitter and still holds the title as one of the best bunters in baseball. His “small ball” approach was emphasized by his fast base running, which eventually earned him the nickname “Scooter”, which is how legendary baseball announcer Mel Allen always referred to him.

Scooter played with the Yankees from 1941-1956, and his best year when was 1950, when he earned himself the title of League MVP. Throughout his career, the Yankees won 10 American League Championship titles, and won 7 World Series.But his career didn’t stop when Scooter stopped playing ball. He quickly earned a spot in the broadcast booth, and announced Yankee games for over 40 years. Along with his radio announcing, Scooter also was a television broadcaster, a commercial spokesperson, and he even made guest appearances on popular television shows.

Phil Rizzuto was best known and loved for his excitement and antics while on the air. They joked with him about having cannolis, his favorite dessert, with him at every game. He was also well known for leaving games early when he got tired. He would say to his wife Cora, “Cora, I’m coming home, got to get over that bridge!” When the network showed a shot of “the bridge” that was usually a sign that “Scooter had left the stadium”. Phil was also deathly afraid of lightning, and was known to duck, dodge and even leave a game is there was a storm brewing. His quirky, sometimes comical ways of announcing made him a fan favorite and loved by baseball fans nationwide. He is best known for phrases such as “Holy Cow!” “What a Shot” and many other emotional outbursts that are famously quoted when Scooter is remembered.Phil was an avid family man, and extremely devoted to his wife, Cora, who he met while emceeing a dinner in Joe DiMaggio’s honor. He always told the story of how he met his wife as being “love at first sight”, and insisted that once he saw Cora, he never looked back.

Scooter was also very involved in charities, and made every effort to continue his work for the disadvantaged after he retired. After meeting a young man who was permanently blinded after being hit in the head with a baseball, Rizzuto became an avid supporter of those without sight, and was a major contributor to St. Joseph’s School for the blind. His work with the students, faculty, and generous monetary contributions speak to the good hearted and man that he was.

On August 4, 1985, the Yankees retired Phil’s #10 jersey, which is now displayed proudly in bronze in Memorial Park at Yankee Stadium. Casey did me a favor and dug through his memorabilia and put up the actual ticket stub from that game. It was the same day Tom Seasver won his 300th game as a Chicago White Sock and it figures, BYB's Casey was there.

At 5’6 and 160 pounds, Phil Rizzuto was not very big in stature. But his heart and his personality are permanently etched in the fabric of Yankees baseball history, and we will never forget him.

--Christy Lee, BYB Staff Writer

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1 comment:

  1. I was also at Phil Rizzuto Day. Ordered the tickets on Tuesday. The White Sox announced Seaver as their starter on the Wednesday. On the Sunday, 54,000 people, half of them Met fans coming to see Seaver, and there were fights all over the place. Seaver was 40 and pitched a complete game like he was 25, and all I could do was tip my cap. But Rizzuto and Seaver were good to each other in the booth, and Tom was very happy for Phil when he finally got into the Hall of Fame.


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