All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rest in peace, Scooter

Some sad news today:

Yankee great Rizzuto dies at age 89

Phil Rizzuto, the Hall of Fame shortstop during the Yankees’ dynasty years and beloved by a generation of fans who delighted in hearing him exclaim “Holy cow!” as a broadcaster, has died. He was 89.

Rizzuto had pneumonia and died in his sleep late Monday night, daughter Patricia Rizzuto said Tuesday. He had been in declining health for several years and was living at a nursing home in West Orange, N.J.

...“I guess heaven must have needed a shortstop,” Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. “He epitomized the Yankee spirit — gritty and hard charging — and he wore the pinstripes proudly.”

At 5-foot-6, Rizzuto was a flashy player who could always be counted on for a perfect bunt, a nice slide or a diving catch in a lineup better known for its cornerstone sluggers. He played 13 seasons alongside the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle in a career interrupted by Navy service in World War II.

“Phil was a gem, one of the greatest people I ever knew — a dear friend and great teammate,” said Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who frequently visited Rizzuto in his later years.

Sad, but not surprising. The Scooter hadn't made it to Old Timers' Day in recent years, or been seen in public at all, really. The tabloids started running stories saying he was very ill, though his family and friends denied it, at least at first.

I never saw Phil Rizzuto as a player. He played his last game before I was born. I never even heard him as an announcer; I'm not a native New Yorker, and was raised in a strictly football family anyway. But long before I became a baseball fan or a Yankee fan, I knew Phil as the baseball announcer in Meat Loaf's "Paradise By the Dashboard Light." My friend K. used to play the Bat Out of Hell album all the time. Meat Loaf was way uncool at the time, but she had inherited it from her older brother, and anything he liked, she liked. She was really into sports, and used to make me listen to "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" with my ear against the speaker, trying to figure out if the guy was out or safe. It drove her bananas not to know.

She told me about Phil Rizzuto, explained that he always said, "Holy Cow," etc. I was kind of surprised that a big name announcer from his generation would agree to be part of something that was so sexually suggestive. I heard later that he hadn't realized. Once he did, he was pretty annoyed. Though he came around eventually.

Anyways, we never did figure it out. I always thought if I ever met Phil Rizzuto, I'd ask him if the guy was out or safe. I guess I'll never get the chance.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:15 PM


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