Philip Francis Rizzuto (September 25, 1917 – August 13, 2007), nicknamed "The Scooter", was an American Major League Baseball shortstop. He spent his entire 13-year baseball career with the New York Yankees (1941–1956), and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.
A popular figure on a team dynasty that captured 10 AL titles and seven World Championships in his 13 seasons, Rizzuto holds numerous World Series records for shortstops. His best statistical season was 1950, when he was named the American League's Most Valuable Player. Despite this offensive peak, Rizzuto was a classic "small ball" player, noted for his strong defense in the infield. The slick-fielding Rizzuto is also regarded as one of the best bunters in baseball history. When he retired, his 1,217 career double plays ranked second in major league history, trailing only Luke Appling's total of 1,424, and his .968 career fielding average trailed only Lou Boudreau's mark of .973 among AL shortstops.
After his playing career, Rizzuto enjoyed a 40-year career as a radio and television sports announcer for the Yankees. His idiosyncratic style and unpredictable digressions charmed listeners, while his lively play-by-play brought a distinct energy to his broadcasts. He was well known for his trademark expression "holy cow!"
Rizzuto c. 1953
|Born: September 25, 1917|
Brooklyn, New York City, New York
|Died: August 13, 2007 (aged 89)|
West Orange, New Jersey
|April 14, 1941, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 16, 1956, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||563|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Election Method||Veterans Committee|
Rizzuto was born on September 25, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a streetcar motorman. There has been confusion about his year of birth, stemming from Rizzuto's "shaving a year off" the date at the beginning of his pro career, on the advice of teammates. Throughout his career, his birth year was reported as 1918 in both The Sporting News Baseball Register and the American League Red Book; later reference sources revised the year to 1917, indicating his age at the time of his death to be 89. After Rizzuto's death, the New York Post broke a story reporting Rizzuto's actual year of birth as 1916. However, it was subsequently reported that the New York City Department of Health said Rizzuto's official birth certificate is, in fact, dated 1917.
Despite his modest size—usually listed during his playing career as five feet, six inches tall and either 150 or 160 pounds, though he rarely reached even the lower figure—Rizzuto played baseball as well as football at Richmond Hill High School, Queens, New York.
|Phil Rizzuto's number 10 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1985.|
Rizzuto was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1937. His nickname, at times attributed to Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen, was actually bestowed on Rizzuto (according to him) by minor league teammate Billy Hitchcock because of the way Rizzuto ran the bases.
After being named the Minor League Player of the Year by The Sporting News in 1940 while playing with the Kansas City Blues, he played his first major league game on April 14, 1941. Taking over for the well-liked Frank Crosetti, whose batting average had dropped to .194 after several strong seasons, Rizzuto quickly fit into the Yankees lineup to form an outstanding middle infield with second baseman Joe Gordon. In his syndicated column on October 1, Grantland Rice compared the pair favorably to the middle infield of the crosstown Brooklyn Dodgers: "Billy Herman and Pee Wee Reese around the highly important keystone spot don't measure up, over a season anyway, with Joe Gordon and Phil Rizzuto, a pair of light-footed, quick-handed operatives who can turn seeming base hits into double plays often enough to save many a close scrap."
Rizzuto's rookie season ended in the World Series, and though he hit poorly, the Yankees beat the Dodgers. The following year, Rizzuto led all hitters, for both the Yankees and the opposing St. Louis Cardinals, with 8 hits and a .381 average in the 1942 World Series; the light-hitting shortstop even added a home run after hitting just 4 in the regular season.
Like many players of the era, he found his career interrupted by a stint in the United States Navy during World War II. From 1943 through 1945, he played on a Navy baseball team alongside Dodgers shortstop Reese; the team was managed by Yankees catcher Bill Dickey.
Shortly after Rizzuto's return to the Yankees for the 1946 season, he attracted the ire of new Yankees general manager, president, and co-owner Larry MacPhail, former president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. MacPhail had served in both World Wars, was hard-drinking, tempestuous, and often paranoid, but as a baseball executive was innovative and considered a near-genius despite being hobbled by alcohol and a volatile temper. In 1946 MacPhail became aware that Mexican millionaire and ball club owner Jorge Pasquel, just named president of the Mexican League and who with his wealthy 2 brothers had poached American players from the Negro League since 1943, was now courting Major League men. Several clubs lost players with others mentioned including the Yankees, and Phil Rizzuto was rumored to be considering a $100,000, 3-year contract. For that matter, a number of players on various teams had begun "moonlighting" in winter playing for Cuban teams. The disarray had to end. Baseball Commissioner Albert Happy Chandler, former Kentucky governor, announced on Opening Day that exclusivity clauses still ruled—all contract-jumping players heading to Mexico or Cuba would be suspended from the Major League for 5 years.
The New York Herald Tribune sent one of its star sportswriters, Rutherford "Rud" Rennie, down to Mexico to see what was up with the invigorated Mexican League and the ambitious Pasquel Brothers. By that time they had hired a trio of Mariachi musicians wearing sombreros to play outside at least one American stadium. The Trib's Rennie sent several dispatches from Mexico, liking some things about the scene but disliking others. Rennie, who had covered the Yankees since the Roaring Twenties, was soon astounded when MacPhail sued the Mexican Baseball League and the restraining order named Rud Rennie as an "agent" of the foreigners. Court papers alleged that he had "been seen" in the Yankees locker room talking with his good friend Phil Rizzuto and other players and advocating contract-jumping. Hours later, the Dodgers and Giants owners hastened into court also; their teams were among the 10 who had actually lost a combined number of 23 players that season. The situation was hardly helped when retired Yankees slugger-hero Babe Ruth took his family on an extended Mexican vacation as guest of the Pasquels, and new rumors flew that Ruth was being wooed for a Mexican club manager's job. The lawsuits soon moved to the US Supreme Court, but the Yankees' MacPhail saw he had overreacted in pushing a restraining order on Rennie for merely covering the news and maintaining good relationships with Rizzuto and teammates; the order was dropped, avoiding a potential first amendment fracas for Larry MacPhail, who would be edged out in a year. Perhaps at least partially caused by the court action and negative attention, the Yankees finished third in 1946 and Rizzuto's average went down to .257. By 1947, Commissioner Chandler let Americans return to their home clubs with no penalty. And In 1947 the increasingly valued Rizzuto recorded a .969 fielding average, breaking Crosetti's 1939 team record for shortstops of .968. He broke his own record the following year with a .973 mark.
Rizzuto's peak as a player was 1949–50, when he was moved into the leadoff spot. In 1950, his MVP season, he hit .324 with 200 hits and 92 walks, and scored 125 runs. While leading the league in fielding percentage, Rizzuto handled 238 consecutive chances without an error, setting the single-season record for shortstops.
From September 18, 1949 through June 7, 1950, he played 58 games at shortstop without an error, breaking the AL record of 46 set by Eddie Joost in 1947–48; the record stood until Ed Brinkman played error-free for 72 games in 1972. Rizzuto recorded 123 double plays in 1950, three more than Crosetti's total from 1938; it remains the Yankee record. Rizzuto's 1950 fielding percentage of .9817 led the league, and came within less than a point of Lou Boudreau's league record of .9824, set in 1947. Rizzuto's mark was a franchise record until 1976, when Yankees shortstop Fred Stanley posted a mark of .983.
Rizzuto was voted the American League's Most Valuable Player by a large margin in 1950, after having been the runner-up for the award behind Ted Williams in 1949. He became the only MVP in history who led the league in sacrifice bunts. Rizzuto played in five All-Star Games, in 1942 and each year from 1950 to 1953. In 1950, he also won the Hickok Belt, awarded to the top professional athlete of the year, and was named Major League Player of the Year by The Sporting News. He was voted top major league shortstop by The Sporting News four consecutive years (1949–52).
Rizzuto batted .320 in the 1951 World Series, for which the New York chapter of the BBWAA later voted him the Babe Ruth Award as the Series' top player. Decades later, Rizzuto still spoke resentfully of the incident in which pugnacious New York Giants second baseman Eddie Stanky sparked a rally by kicking the ball out of Rizzuto's glove on a tag play. Ty Cobb named Rizzuto and Stan Musial as "two of the few modern ball players who could hold their own among old timers." Yankees manager Casey Stengel had famously dismissed Rizzuto during that Brooklyn Dodgers tryout in 1935 when Stengel was managing that team, advising him to "go get a shoeshine box." But Stengel ended up managing Rizzuto during five consecutive championship seasons, and would later say, "He is the greatest shortstop I have ever seen in my entire baseball career, and I have watched some beauties." During his heyday, Yankees pitcher Vic Raschi noted, "My best pitch is anything the batter grounds, lines or pops in the direction of Rizzuto." Decades into his retirement, teammate Joe DiMaggio characterized Rizzuto's enduring appeal to fans: "People loved watching me play baseball. Scooter, they just loved."
Rizzuto was noted for "small ball", strong defense, and clutch hitting, which helped the Yankees win seven World Series. As an offensive player, he is particularly regarded as one of the best bunters of his era; he led the AL in sacrifice hits every season from 1949 to 1952. In retirement, he often tutored players on the bunt during spring training. In the announcing booth, Rizzuto talked about the several different kinds of bunts he would use in different situations. Later during his broadcasting career, he occasionally expressed disappointment that the art of bunting had largely been lost in baseball. Rizzuto was among the AL's top five players in stolen bases seven times. Defensively, he led the league three times each in double plays and total chances per game, twice each in fielding and putouts, and once in assists. Rizzuto ranks among the top ten players in several World Series categories, including games, hits, walks, runs, and steals. Three times during his career, the Yankees played until Game Seven of the World Series; Rizzuto batted .455 in those three games (1947, 1952, 1955).
In Rizzuto's obituary, The New York Times recalled a play that had occurred on September 17, 1951, with the Yankees and Cleveland Indians tied for first place and just 12 games left in the season:
As the winning run scored, Lemon angrily threw both the ball and his pitching glove into the stands.
Rizzuto was released by the Yankees on August 25, 1956. Rizzuto often talked about the unusual circumstances of his release. Late in the 1956 season, the Yankees re-acquired Enos Slaughter, who had been with the team in 1954–55, and asked Rizzuto to meet with the front office to discuss adjustments to the upcoming postseason roster. They then asked Rizzuto to look over the list of Yankee players and suggest which ones might be cut to make room for Slaughter. For each name Rizzuto mentioned, a reason was given as to why that player needed to be kept. Finally, Rizzuto realized that the expendable name was his own. He called former teammate George Stirnweiss, who told him to refrain from "blasting" the Yankees because it might cost him a non-playing job later. Rizzuto said many times that following Stirnweiss' advice was probably the best move he ever made.
When he retired, his 1,217 career double plays ranked second in major league history, trailing only Luke Appling's total of 1,424, and his .968 career fielding average trailed only Lou Boudreau's mark of .973 among AL shortstops. He also ranked fifth in AL history in games at shortstop (1,647), eighth in putouts (3,219) and total chances (8,148), and ninth in assists (4,666).
At the time of his last game, he had also appeared in the most World Series games ever (52), a record soon surpassed by five of his Yankees teammates. Rizzuto still holds numerous World Series records for shortstops, including the most career games played, singles, walks, times on base, stolen bases, at-bats, putouts, assists and double plays.
Rizzuto married Cora Anne Ellenborn on June 23, 1943; the two first met the previous year when Rizzuto substituted for Joe DiMaggio as a speaker at a Newark communion breakfast. "I fell in love so hard I didn't go home", Rizzuto recalled. He rented a nearby hotel room for a month to be near her. The Rizzutos moved to Hillside, New Jersey, in 1949, to an apartment in Monroe Gardens. With later financial successes, they moved to a Tudor home on Westminster Avenue, where they lived for many years.
During his playing days, Rizzuto (along with several other big leaguers) would work in the off season at the American Shops off U.S. Route 22 near Bayonne, New Jersey. At a charity event in 1951, Rizzuto met a young blind boy named Ed Lucas, who had lost his sight when he was struck by a baseball between the eyes on the same day as Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World."
Rizzuto took an interest in the boy and his school, St. Joseph's School for the Blind. Until his death, Rizzuto raised millions for St. Joseph's by donating profits from his commercials and books, and also by hosting the Annual Phil Rizzuto Celebrity Golf Classic and "Scooter" Awards. Rizzuto and Lucas remained friendly, and it was through the Yankee broadcaster's influence that Lucas's 2006 wedding was the only one ever conducted at Yankee Stadium. Lucas was one of Rizzuto's last visitors at his nursing home, days before his death.
Rizzuto had options following his release by the Yankees, including a player contract from the Cardinals and a minor league offer from the Dodgers. But Rizzuto, who had filled in for the New York Giants' wraparound host Frankie Frisch in September 1956 following Frisch's heart attack, received a favorable response. With his eye on a post-playing career, Rizzuto submitted an audition tape to the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees' sponsor, Ballantine Beer, took notice, and insisted that the team hire Rizzuto as an announcer for the 1957 season. General manager George Weiss was obliged to fire Jim Woods, who had only been with the Yankees for four years, to make room for Rizzuto in the booth. When Weiss told Woods he was out in favor of Rizzuto, he said that it was the first time he had to fire someone for no reason.
Rizzuto broadcast Yankee games on radio and television for the next 40 years. His popular catchphrase was "Holy cow." Rizzuto also became known for saying "Unbelievable!" or "Did you see that?" to describe a great play, and would call somebody a "huckleberry" if he did something Rizzuto did not like. During game broadcasts, he would frequently wish listeners a happy birthday or anniversary, send get-well wishes to fans in hospitals, and speak well of restaurants he liked, or of the cannoli he ate between innings. This chatter sometimes distracted the speaker himself; Rizzuto devised the unique scoring notation "WW" for his scorecard; it stood for "Wasn't Watching."
He also joked about leaving the game early, saying to his wife, "I'll be home soon, Cora!" and "I gotta get over that bridge", referring to the nearby and often congested George Washington Bridge, which he would use to get back to his home in Hillside. In later years, Rizzuto would announce the first six innings of Yankee games; the TV director would sometimes puckishly show a shot of the bridge (which can be seen from the top of Yankee Stadium) after Rizzuto had departed. Rizzuto was also very phobic about lightning, and sometimes left the booth following violent thunderclaps.
Rizzuto started his broadcasting career working alongside Mel Allen and Red Barber in 1957. Among a number of announcers that Rizzuto worked with over the course of his career, Frank Messer (1968–1985) and Bill White (1971–1988) were the two most memorable. Rizzuto, Messer, and White were the main broadcast trio that presided over an important time period for the Yankees, which spanned from the non-winning CBS years through the championship seasons and other years of struggle during the Steinbrenner era. On television, for example, the Yankees broadcast team went unchanged from 1972 to 1982.
Rizzuto was twice assigned to broadcast the World Series while with the Yankees. He worked the 1964 series on NBC-TV and radio with Joe Garagiola when the Yankees faced the Cardinals. The next time the Yankees made it into the series, in 1976, Rizzuto joined Garagiola and Tony Kubek on NBC-TV when the Yankees faced the Reds. The 1976 World Series was the last to have a local voice from each of the two teams take part as guest announcers. WPIX and its usual Rizzuto-Messer-White broadcast trifecta carried the ALCS in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, and 1981, providing metropolitan area viewers a local alternative to the nationally broadcast telecasts.
Rizzuto would typically refer to his broadcast partners by their last names, calling them "White", "Murcer" and "Seaver" instead of "Bill", "Bobby" or "Tom." Reportedly, he did the same with teammates during his playing days. Rizzuto developed a reputation as a "homer", an announcer who would sometimes lapse into openly rooting for the home team. In 1978, on the televised postgame show, the news arrived that Pope Paul VI had just died. "Well," said Rizzuto, "that kind of puts the damper on even a Yankee win." Esquire magazine called that the "Holiest Cow of 1978."
"He hits one deep to right-center! That ball is out of here! The Yankees win the pennant! Holy cow, Chris Chambliss on one swing!" [As fans poured onto the field, tearing it up for souvenirs] "And the Yankees win the American League pennant. Unbelievable, what a finish! As dramatic a finish as you'd ever want to see! With all that delay, we told you Littell (Mark Littell, the Royals' reliever who gave up the homer) had to be a little upset. And holy cow, Chambliss hits one over the fence, he is being mobbed by the fans, and this field will never be the same, but the Yankees have won it in the bottom of the 9th, seven to six!"
Rizzuto was also on the mic for the one-game playoff that decided the dramatic 1978 AL East race between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, the Pine Tar game involving George Brett in 1983, and Phil Niekro's 300th career win in 1985.
Malapropisms and stream-of-consciousness commentary were fairly common for Rizzuto, which annoyed his critics but amused his fans:
As Dave Righetti hurled his no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on July 4, 1983 at Yankee Stadium, Rizzuto—broadcasting on WABC radio—described the video of a close play as if his listeners could see it. Partner Frank Messer gently jogged the Scooter's memory by quipping "Which side of the radio are we looking at?" (To be fair, Rizzuto and Messer alternated that day between WABC radio, TV's SportsChannel (now MSG Plus) and the Fan Appreciation giveaways on the field.)
During the openings to two separate telecasts, Rizzuto began by reading off a teleprompter, "Welcome to New York Yankee Baseball. I'm Bill White ... wait a minute." Both times, this caused White, standing to Rizzuto's left, to burst out in laughter. On another occasion, Rizzuto introduced the team as "Bill Rizzuto" and "Phil White."
Rizzuto's relationships with White and Fran Healy (the latter first worked with Rizzuto on radio) produced some good-humored exchanges, including one with White during the WPIX telecast of the American League Eastern Division title game on October 2, 1978. Red Sox batter Bob (Beetle) Bailey, who had gained a little weight, had just stepped into the batter's box:
On another occasion, at a 1978 game at Comiskey Park, Healy impishly introduced Rizzuto's return to the broadcast booth by saying, "And back from the men's room, Phil Rizzuto" leading to the following exchange:
Not all of Rizzuto's broadcasting experiences were jovial. On the evening of the funeral of former teammate Mickey Mantle (August 15, 1995 in Dallas, Texas), the Yankees were set to play a road game against the Boston Red Sox. Announcing partner Bobby Murcer had already left to attend the funeral, and Rizzuto understandably assumed that he would be allowed to miss the game to attend the funeral with former teammates as well. WPIX and/or the Yankees refused to let him go, citing that "someone needed to do the color commentary." Rizzuto eventually gave into emotion and abruptly left the booth in the middle of the telecast saying he could not go on. Rizzuto announced his retirement from announcing soon afterwards, which many attributed to the incident.
He was eventually persuaded to return for one more season in 1996 where he called another Yankee shortstop protégé, Derek Jeter's first home run. When he retired that season, he had spent parts of seven decades—virtually all of his adult life—in the Yankee organization as a minor league player, major league player and broadcaster. Although Mel Allen is to this day identified as "The Voice of the Yankees", Rizzuto was the longest serving Yankees broadcaster in the history of the club; he called Yankees games for 40 years to Allen's 35.
The Yankees retired Rizzuto's number 10 in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on August 4, 1985. During this ceremony, he was also given a plaque to be placed in the stadium's Monument Park. The plaque makes reference to the fact that he "has enjoyed two outstanding careers, all-time Yankee shortstop, one of the great Yankee broadcasters." Humorously, Rizzuto was accidentally bumped to the ground during his own ceremony, by a live cow wearing a halo (that is, a "holy cow"); both honoree and cow were unhurt. Rizzuto later described the encounter: "That big thing stepped right on my shoe and pushed me backwards, like a karate move." In that day's game, future broadcast partner Tom Seaver recorded his 300th career victory.
Most baseball observers, including Rizzuto himself, came to believe that Derek Jeter had surpassed him as the greatest shortstop in Yankees history. The Scooter paid tribute to his heir apparent during the 2001 postseason at Yankee Stadium; jogging back to the Yankee dugout, he flipped the ceremonial baseball backhand, imitating Jeter's celebrated game-saving throw to home plate that had just occurred during the Yankees' 2001 American League Division Series triumph. ESPN reported that the photo of Jeter and Rizzuto taken that evening is one of Jeter's most prized possessions.
In the spring of 1957, following Rizzuto's release, Baltimore Orioles manager Paul Richards said, "Among those shortstops whom I have had the good fortune to see in action, it's got to be Rizzuto on top for career achievement. For a five-year period, I would have to take Lou Boudreau. ... But, year after year, season after season, Rizzuto was a standout." Sportswriter Dan Daniel wrote at the time, "It seems to me that Rizzuto must be included among the few players of the past five years who may look forward to ultimate election to the Hall of Fame."  However, Daniel's assessment did not come to pass for over 35 years.
Rizzuto was elected to the Hall of Fame along with Leo Durocher (who was selected posthumously), in 1994 by the Veterans Committee, following a long campaign for Rizzuto's election by Yankee fans who were frustrated that he had not received the honor. Some of Rizzuto's peers supported his candidacy, including Boston's Ted Williams. Williams once claimed that his Red Sox would have won most of the Yankees' 1940s and 1950s pennants if they had had Rizzuto at shortstop, but Rizzuto himself was more modest: "My stats don't shout. They kind of whisper." The push for Rizzuto became especially acute after 1984, when the committee elected Pee Wee Reese, the similarly-regarded shortstop of the crosstown Brooklyn Dodgers.
Bill James later used Rizzuto's long candidacy as a recurring focus in his book Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?, devoting several chapters to the shortstop's career and comparisons with similar players. James assessed Rizzuto's career statistics as historically substandard by Hall of Fame standards, although he acknowledged that credit must be given for the years he missed in World War II, and criticized many of the public arguments both for and against his selection; but despite noting that Rizzuto was a great defensive player and a good hitter he stated that he could not endorse his candidacy, as there were too many similar players with virtually identical accomplishments. The book's final paragraph noted Rizzuto's election to the Hall in February 1994. James, however, did point out that there were numerous players in the Hall who were inferior to Rizzuto, and in 2001 he selected Rizzuto as the 16th greatest shortstop of all time, ahead of eight other Hall of Famers.
Rizzuto was modest about his achievements, saying, "I never thought I deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is for the big guys, pitchers with 100 mph fastballs and hitters who sock homers and drive in a lot of runs. That's the way it always has been, and the way it should be."
Rizzuto gave a memorably discombobulated induction speech at Cooperstown, in which he repeatedly complained about the buzzing flies that were pestering him. Rizzuto's "inimitable and wondrous digressions and ramblings" were mimicked by New York Times columnist Ira Berkow:
Anyway, somewhere in the speech (Rizzuto) told about leaving home in Brooklyn for the first time when he was 19 years old and going to play shortstop in the minor league town of Bassett, Virginia, and he was on a train with no sleeper and when he got his first taste of Southern fried chicken and it was great and it was also the first time that he ever ate -- "Hey, White, what's that stuff that looks like oatmeal?"—and Bill White, his onetime announcing partner on Yankee broadcasts, and, like all his partners, never seemed to learn their first names, though he knew the first and last names of a lot of the birthdays he forever is announcing and the owners of his favorite restaurants even though as he admits he often talks about the score or the game, but after 38 years of announcing games and after a 13-year playing career with championship Yankee teams few seem to care about this either, well, White was in the audience and stood up and said "Grits".
In 1999, the minor league Staten Island Yankees named their mascot "Scooter the Holy Cow", after Rizzuto. He was inducted in 2009 into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. There is a park named after him in Elizabeth, New Jersey, directly across from Kean University.
When Rizzuto did not attend the annual Cooperstown reunion in 2005 and the annual New York Yankees Old Timers Day in 2006, questions were raised about his health. His last public appearance came early in 2006; visibly frail, he announced that he was putting much of his memorabilia on the market. In September 2006, Rizzuto's 1950 MVP plaque fetched $175,000, three of his World Series rings sold for $84,825, and a Yankee cap with a wad of chewing gum on it went for $8,190. The majority of the proceeds went to Rizzuto's longtime charity of choice, Jersey City's St. Joseph's School for the Blind.
On September 12, 2006, the New York Post revealed that Rizzuto was currently in a "private rehab facility, trying to overcome muscle atrophy and problems with his esophagus." During his last extensive interview, on WFAN radio in late 2005, Rizzuto revealed that he had an operation where much of his stomach was removed and that he was being treated with medical steroids, a subject he joked about in light of baseball's performance-enhancing drugs scandal.
Rizzuto died in his sleep on August 13, 2007, three days short of the 51st anniversary of his last game as a Yankee, exactly twelve years after the death of Mickey Mantle, and just over one month shy of his 90th birthday. He had been in declining health for several years and was living at a nursing home in West Orange, New Jersey for the last months of his life. At the time of his death, at age 89, Rizzuto was the oldest living member of Baseball's Hall of Fame.
Rizzuto was survived by his wife, Cora (who died in 2010), daughters Cindy Rizzuto, Patricia Rizzuto and Penny Rizzuto Yetto, son Phil Rizzuto Jr., and two granddaughters.
The 1943 World Series matched the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals against the New York Yankees, in a rematch of the 1942 Series. The Yankees won the Series in five games for their tenth championship in 21 seasons. It was Yankees manager Joe McCarthy's final Series win. This series was also the first to have an accompanying World Series highlight film (initially, the films were created as gifts to troops fighting in World War II, to give them a brief recap of baseball action back home), a tradition that still persists.
This World Series was scheduled for a 3–4 format because of wartime travel restrictions. The 3–4 format meant there was only one trip between ballparks, but if the Series had ended in a four-game sweep, there would have been three games played in one park and only one in the other.
Because of World War II, both teams' rosters were depleted. Johnny Beazley, Jimmy Brown, Creepy Crespi, Terry Moore and Enos Slaughter were no longer on the Cardinals' roster. Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Red Ruffing and Buddy Hassett were missing from the Yankees, and Red Rolfe had retired to coach at Dartmouth College.
Cardinals pitchers Howie Pollet, Max Lanier and Mort Cooper ranked 1–2–3 in the National League in ERA in 1943 at 1.75, 1.90 and 2.30, respectively.1949 New York Yankees season
The 1949 New York Yankees season was the team's 47th season in New York, and its 49th season overall. The team finished with a record of 97–57, winning their 16th pennant, finishing 1 game ahead of the Boston Red Sox. New York was managed by Casey Stengel in his first year. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in 5 games.1950 Major League Baseball season
The 1950 Major League Baseball season began on April 18 and ended with the 1950 World Series on October 7, 1950. The only no-hitter of the season was pitched by Vern Bickford on August 11, in the Boston Braves 7–0 victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers. The 1950 season saw the first use of a bullpen car, by the Cleveland Indians.1950 New York Yankees season
The 1950 New York Yankees season was the 48th season for the team in New York and its 50th overall as a franchise. The team finished with a record of 98–56, winning their 17th pennant, finishing 3 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. In the World Series, they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in 4 games. New York was managed by Casey Stengel. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium.1951 New York Yankees season
The 1951 New York Yankees season was the 49th season for the team in New York, and its 51st season overall. The team finished with a record of 98–56, winning their 18th pennant, finishing five games ahead of the Cleveland Indians. New York was managed by Casey Stengel. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they defeated the New York Giants in 6 games.
This year was noted for a "changing of the guard" for the Yankees, as it was Joe DiMaggio's final season and Mickey Mantle's first. The 1951 season also marked the first year of Bob Sheppard's long tenure as Yankee Stadium's public address announcer.1952 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 1952 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 19th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 8, 1952, at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the home of the Philadelphia Phillies of the National League. The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 3–2 in 5 innings. It was the first All-Star Game—and to date, the only—to be called early due to rain.
Mickey Mantle was selected an All-Star for the first time, as was pitcher Satchel Paige, who a day before the game turned 46 years old. Neither appeared in the game.1957 New York Yankees season
The 1957 New York Yankees season was the 55th season for the team in New York, and its 57th season overall. The team finished with a record of 98–56 to win their 23rd pennant, finishing eight games ahead of the Chicago White Sox. New York was managed by Casey Stengel. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium.
In the World Series, the Yankees were defeated by the Milwaukee Braves in seven games. They lost the crucial seventh game in Yankee Stadium to the starting pitcher for the Braves, Lew Burdette, who was selected the World Series Most Valuable Player based on this and his other two victories in the Series.
Phil Rizzuto, the former team shortstop from the early 50s, joined the broadcast team for the radio and television broadcasts taking over from Jim Woods in what would be the first of many seasons as a Yankees broadcaster.1994 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1994 followed the system in place since 1978.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and
elected Steve Carlton.
The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider older major league players as well as managers, umpires, executives, and figures from the Negro Leagues.
It selected two, Leo Durocher and Phil Rizzuto.Al Brancato
Albert Brancato (May 29, 1919 – June 14, 2012) was a shortstop and third baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1939 to 1941 and in 1945.His career in the majors was interrupted by military service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Brancato served in the Pacific theater and played on the Navy's all-star baseball team, composed of Major League players in military service. While entertaining the troops at the all-star games, Brancato appeared alongside Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Bill Dickey, Tom Ferrick, Bob Feller, and Eddie Collins, Jr. He holds the post-1940 record for errors in a season, with 61. He was born in Philadelphia, one of seven children of Italian immigrant parents.
Brancato died on June 14, 2012, at age 93 at Sunrise at Granite Run, an assisted living facility in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He had recently moved to the facility in failing health and had broken his hip several months before his death. He was a long-time resident of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania with his wife, Isabel, to whom he was married for 69 years. His children included Sister Helen Brancato, Albert Jr., and David Brancato.Bassett Furnituremakers
The Bassett Furnituremakers were a Bi-State League baseball team based in Bassett, Virginia, USA that played from 1935 to 1940. They made the league playoffs in each year of their existence, winning the championship every year from 1936 to 1938. Each under a different manager – the first under Ernie Jenkins, the second under Ray White and the third under Walter Novak.
From 1936 to 1937, they were affiliated with the New York Yankees. In 1938 they switched affiliation to the Cincinnati Reds, and in 1939 to the Brooklyn Dodgers.
They were one of only two baseball teams to ever play professionally in Bassett.
Hall of Fame shortstop Phil Rizzuto played for the team.Billy Goodman
William Dale Goodman (March 22, 1926 – October 1, 1984) was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) infielder who played sixteen seasons for the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, and Houston Colt .45s, from 1947 through 1962. Goodman was inducted posthumously into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in November 2004.Goodman was an outstanding hitter and fielder, he was one of the most versatile players of his era. He played every position in the major leagues except catcher and pitcher and was an All-Star for two seasons. In 1950, he won the American League (AL) batting title hitting .354 with 68 runs batted in (RBI) and was the AL Most Valuable Player runner-up to New York Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto (hit .324 with 66 RBI). Goodman batted over .290 in eleven seasons including over .300 in five seasons. In 1959, he hit .304, helping the White Sox win the AL Pennant championship. His career .376 on-base percentage made him an ideal lead-off hitter. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1969.Earl Gillespie
Earl William Gillespie Jr. (July 25, 1922 – December 12, 2003) was an American sportscaster, best known as the radio voice of Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Braves from 1953 to 1963. Before 1953, he was the play-by-play announcer for the minor league Milwaukee Brewers (American Association), an affiliate of the Braves, who moved to Toledo, Ohio when the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee.
A baseball player in high school in Chicago at Lane Tech, he played minor-league professional baseball briefly for the Green Bay Bluejays before becoming a Wisconsin sports broadcaster.
Gillespie was partnered with Blaine Walsh on WTMJ Radio and known for his dramatic, extroverted style of play-by-play and his use of the phrase "Holy cow!" during moments of great excitement (an on-air catchphrase he shared with fellow baseball announcers Harry Caray and Phil Rizzuto).
Gillespie called both of the Braves' World Series appearances in Milwaukee (1957, 1958) over NBC radio, as well as the 1955 All-Star Game (played in Milwaukee) over Mutual radio. At various times he also did radio and television commentary for Green Bay Packers football, Milwaukee Hawks basketball, Marquette Warriors basketball, and Wisconsin Badgers football. He worked at WITI-TV in Milwaukee from 1963 until his retirement in 1985.
Gillespie was named Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year eight times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, and was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.
Earl's son John Sr., and grandson John Jr. are also Wisconsin sportscasters, with the younger John Gillespie currently ended his employment with WBAY-TV in Green Bay in late July 2010.Holy cow (expression)
"Holy cow!" (and similar) is an exclamation of surprise used mostly in the United States, Canada, Australia, and England and is a minced oath or euphemism for "Holy Christ!"
The expression dates to at least 1905, and its earliest known appearance was in a tongue-in-cheek letter to the editor: "A lover of the cow writes to this column to protest against a certain variety of Hindu oath having to do with the vain use of the name of the milk producer. There is the profane exclamations, "holy cow!" and, "By the stomach of the eternal cow!"" The phrase appears to have been adopted as a means to avoid penalties for using obscene or indecent language and may have been based on a general awareness of the holiness of cows in some religious traditions.From the Dictionary of American Slang (1960):
Expressions such as "Holy buckets!", "Holy underwear!", etc. also employ a play-on-words, "holy" implying "riddled with holes". Paul Beale, however, revised Eric Partridge's A Dictionary of Catch Phrase and cites a different origin:
The phrase "Holy cow!" was used by baseball players at least as early as 1913 and probably much earlier. It became associated with several American baseball broadcasters. The phrase may have originated with reporter and broadcaster Halsey Hall who worked in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1919 until his death in 1977. According to Paul Dickson, New Orleans radio announcer Jack Holiday also used the phrase on broadcasts of the minor-league New Orleans Pelicans in the 1930s. Harry Caray was the broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals (1945–1969), Oakland Athletics (1970), Chicago White Sox (1971–1981), and Chicago Cubs (1982–1997), and he began using it early in his career in order to prevent himself from lapsing into vulgarity. New York Yankees shortstop and announcer Phil Rizzuto was also well-known for the phrase; when the Yankees honored him following his retirement, the ceremony included a real cow with a halo prop on its head. 1950s Milwaukee Braves broadcaster Earl Gillespie was also known for this expression.
The comic book series Common Grounds was based on the mini-comic Holey Crullers, named after its setting in a coffee and doughnut shop called Holey Crullers.Jerry Priddy
Gerald Edward Priddy (November 9, 1919 – March 3, 1980) was an American professional baseball player and a second baseman in Major League Baseball for 11 years. He played for the New York Yankees (1941–1942), Washington Senators (1943, 1946–1947), St. Louis Browns (1948–1949), and Detroit Tigers (1950–1953).Joe Grifasi
Joseph G. Grifasi (born June 14, 1944) is an American character actor of film, stage and television.Grifasi was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Patricia (née Gaglione) and Joseph J. Grifasi, a skilled laborer. Grifasi graduated from Bishop Fallon High School, a now-defunct Roman Catholic high school in Buffalo, when he made the decision that he wanted to be, not just any old actor, but a character actor. He played football and acted in many of the school's plays. Grifasi briefly attended Canisius College in Buffalo before joining the United States Army. He went on to study at the Yale School of Drama. While at the Yale School of Drama, he met his future wife, jazz soprano-saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom; they were married in 1974.Grifasi has played two New York Yankees elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Phil Rizzuto in 61*, set in 1961; and Yogi Berra in The Bronx Is Burning, set in 1977. Grifasi has played defense attorney, later Superior Court Judge, Hashi Horowitz on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit since 2005.List of New York Yankees broadcasters
As one of the most successful clubs in Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees are also one of its oldest teams. Part of that success derives to its radio and television broadcasts that have been running beginning in 1939 when the first radio transmissions were broadcast from the old stadium, and from 1947 when television broadcasts began. They have been one of the pioneer superstation broadcasts when WPIX became a national superstation in 1978 and were the first American League team to broadcast their games on cable, both first in 1978 and later on in 1979, when Sportschannel NY (now MSG Plus) began broadcasting Yankees games to cable subscribers. Today, the team can be heard and/or seen in its gameday broadcasts during the baseball season on:
TV: YES Network or WPIX channel 11 in New York
Radio: WFAN 660AM and WFAN-FM 101.9 FM in New York; New York Yankees Radio Network; WADO 1280 AM (Spanish) (Cadena Radio Yankees)Longest serving Yankee broadcasters (all-time with 10+ years)
Phil Rizzuto (40 yrs), John Sterling (31 yrs), Mel Allen (30 yrs), Michael Kay (28 yrs), Bobby Murcer (22 yrs), Ken Singleton (23 yrs), Frank Messer (18 yrs), Bill White (18 yrs), Suzyn Waldman (15 yrs), Red Barber (13 yrs), Jim Kaat (13 yrs), Al Trautwig (12 yrs)Ray White (baseball)
Raymond Petrie White (November 26, 1910 in Brooklyn, New York – August 17, 1995 in Norfolk, Virginia) was a minor league baseball pitcher and manager. He played from 1933 to 1940, going 55–37 in 170 games. Over the course of his six-year career, he threw 877 innings. In 1934, he went 17–9 while splitting the season between the Norfolk Tars and Binghamton Triplets.In his first year of managing, he led the Bassett Furnituremakers to a league championship in 1937. He took the helm for the Norfolk Tars and led them to a playoff appearance in 1938, however they lost in the first round. He led them until 1940, when he was replaced partway through the season by Phil Page. He last managed for the Augusta Tigers in 1940, replacing the same Phil Page who took his job in Norfolk.
He managed future Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto.Vince Lloyd
Vince Lloyd Skaff (June 1, 1917 – July 3, 2003), who worked under the name Vince Lloyd, was a radio announcer for Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs for over 30 years. He also was the first radio voice in Chicago Bulls history.
Lloyd was born in Beresford, South Dakota, and after graduating from Yankton College in 1940 started his career with a number of local radio stations around the Midwest. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.
During the 1950s, Lloyd was the sidekick to Jack Brickhouse on Cubs and Chicago White Sox television broadcasts, during a time when WGN-TV covered both teams' home games and selected road games. When Cubs radio play-by-play man Jack Quinlan died in an auto accident during spring training, in 1965, Lloyd was promoted to that position and Lloyd Pettit was brought in to back up Brickhouse.
Lloyd then began a more than 20-year radio run partnered with Hall of Fame shortstop Lou Boudreau.
Various announcers have punctuated particularly exciting moments during a game with the exclamation "Holy..." something: Harry Caray and Phil Rizzuto invoked "Holy cow!" Milo Hamilton's was "Holy Toledo!" For a while, Lloyd was known for "Holy mackerel!" During the 1970s, a fan sent the broadcasting team a cowbell, and when a Cubs player would hit a home run, Lloyd and Boudreau would ring the bell as Lloyd proclaimed, "It's a bell-ringer!"
Vince Lloyd was also the first baseball announcer to interview a current US President on TV, when he spoke to John F. Kennedy during the White Sox TV pre-game show for the traditional Washington, D.C. season opener, at Griffith Stadium on April 10, 1961.
In the 1966-67 season, Lloyd teamed with Boudreau on Bulls' broadcasts for WGN Radio. He also was the voice of the Chicago Bears, Chicago Fire and Big Ten football and pro wrestling.Lloyd died of stomach cancer on July 3, 2003, in Green Valley, Arizona.Yankeeography
Yankeeography is a biography-style television program that chronicles the lives and careers of the players, coaches, and other notable personnel associated with the New York Yankees Major League Baseball team. The series is aired on the YES Network and is produced by MLB Productions. The series is hosted by Yankees radio personality John Sterling. The series has earned five New York Sports Emmy Awards since its inception. In addition to airing on YES, MLB Productions has packaged many of the shows into DVD boxed sets.
After debuting as a weekly show with the 2002 launch of YES, Yankeeography only debuts new episodes periodically (as there are fewer prominent Yankees yet to be spotlighted). For instance, four episodes premiered in 2006: Tino Martinez, David Cone, the Yankees' 1996 World Series team, and Billy Martin. All Yankees with retired numbers have had shows completed with the exception of Bill Dickey. The show has been criticized for producing episodes on players who remain active while Hall of Famers from much earlier eras such as Jack Chesbro, Tony Lazzeri, Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez were not profiled. Some profiles have been updated to reflect new developments.
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Book:New York Yankees Category:New York Yankees Portal:New York Yankees
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Italics denotes players who have been voted in but not yet inducted.