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Saturday, April 28, 2012

WHEN I LEARNED OF MOOSE SKOWRON


My dad grew up a Yankees fan during some pretty incredible moments.  Not sure if you remember, but my father was an usher at Yankee stadium when he was just 15 years old and saw some good and bad teams during his time as an usher.  Sure, he was working at Yankee stadium, so in between seating guests and shaking his pocket trying to get a tip, he'd snag a few eyefuls as the Yankees took the field.  That for him was one of the good times in his life, making a few bucks as well as seeing guys like the Mick, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford.  Read WHY MANTLE & MARIS ARE STILL INTRIGUING TODAY if you want more insight. It’s personally one of my favorite posts on BYB.

Years later, when I was a kid, I heard all about the guys my dad watched play, even long after being an usher.  But the names weren’t as familiar.  Put it this way, as a kid in New Jersey, hearing names like Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek didn’t ring a bell.  He’d drop names like Clete Boyer and I'm sure you’d catch me yawning.  I had no idea who these guys were, I was busy watching my guys, The Gator or the Goose…or Thruman Munson.  But I remember 1 guy who I was immediately drawn too.  Not Bill Skowron, but instead... Moose Skowron. Maybe it was the name that I loved or maybe it was the way my dad would describe the way fans screamed his name when he went to the plate... MMMOOOOOSSSSEEE, but as time went on, I noticeably found that my dad clearly had a fondness of Moose, just like he did Mickey Mantle.   

Moose Skowron was a good ballplayer and a loyal Yankee and played 9 years with the Yanks.  He was never considered a mean spirited ball player like you’d hear about guys like Ty Cobb.  In fact, it was the opposite.  Couple that with me learning all about good sportsmanship at a young age, and I was drawn to this guy Moose.  I remember I went through a phase as I got older and would collect certain players until I had as many of their career cards as I could find.  I was able to snag a few Moose Skowron cards at an old coin shop when I was old enough to drive and I’d go from time to time and get whatever I could find. 
It wasn’t easy collecting the top vintage cards like Mickey Mantle or Whitey Ford because of the cost and my lack of funds, so if I could snag a Moose Skowron card from say 1961 (above) and believe me, I was a happy camper.  After all, my dad’s word was law and if Moose was the guy he liked growing up, I’d be in good company.

I remember seeing Moose Skowron at Old Timer’s day last year.  He looked old but he was still bubbly and a happy man.  I remember after I saw him interview, one of my friends texted me and told me he was sick with cancer, yet, he still showed up to Old Timer’s Day.  I was blown away by that.  He always had fight in him throughout his entire career, so hearing he was sick and still at Old Timer’s day didn’t surprise me, in fact, in a strange way, it was probably expected, he was a tough guy and never showed weakness in his entire career. 
Moose Skowron died yesterday. The first thing I did was check out my Skowron baseball collection.  The next thing I did was think about my dad telling me about the great Moose Skowron.  Yeah, it’s true, he was never considered iconic in baseball history, but he’s known by so many because of that amazing nickname.  Moose will always live on in Yankeeland.  Hopefully the Yankees do the right thing and wear an armband to remember a great Yankee, nice man and true fighter. Moose definitely deserves alittle recognition.

My prayers go out to the Skowron family, Mr. Skowron did it his way and that’s what I loved about Moose…it doesn’t get better than that.

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