A wonderful man has died. He played shortstop & then announced games for the same team, the New York Yankees, when his career ended. Some begrudged his second chance election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It took the lobbying & clout of former Boston great Ted Williams, to get Phil in. Mr. Williams once said if Phil Rizzuto played his whole career for the Red Sox, they’d have won 5 World Series.
A lifelong friend of mine had a chance to interview Phil once. Afterward he told me: ‘ Phil is just like our dads,’ all of us, Italo-American kids from New York City. Well, we were all from the Bronx, where the Yankees play; Phil was from Brooklyn. Somehow that made him even more special, because the Dodgers ( in Brooklyn back then ) turned him down none too nicely & we got him! Good thing they weren’t pals with Ted Williams, those huckleberrys!
In one of those career oddities, he became part of rock music history, when he did a play by play bridge in the 1977 Meat Loaf song Paradise by the Dashboard Light. He got his nickname Scooter when Ty Cobb—said that sonuvabitch covers ground like he’s on a scooter.* Not all that long ago Yankee detractors dismissed Phil’s announcing style, labeling him a homer, or a biased rooter for the home team. But holy cow! the Scooter was no homer, he was and always will be a New York Yankee.
And now he’s crossed that bridge to Jersey for the last time.
* OK I made part of that up……