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In Memory of Scooter
2007-08-14 09:38
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

There's a certain irony to the fact that the last game the Yankees played during Phil Rizzuto's lifetime ended with a situation taylor-made for a Scooter squeeze bunt only to see the team decline the opporunity to put on the play. It's also fitting that that game was won in that situation on a dink hit by the Yankee shortstop, a player who won the Rookie of the Year award in Rizzuto's final season as a Yankee broadcaster much to the enduring delight of the Scooter himself, and a player who has come to replace Rizzuto as the greatest Yankee shortstop of all time.

Rizzuto was a tremendously important figure in my life given the importance that baseball and Yankee baseball specifically has taken in it. Rizzuto was the voice first, but more than that the spirit and the passion and the humor that lured me back to the game day after day during the lean years of the 1980s when my fandom coalesced. I put a few words together about Scooter over on SI.com. As you've done in the last thread, please continue to post your memories, anecdotes, and feelings about Scooter below. And feel free to repost things here that you've said elsewhere, it would be great to have all of them in one place.

Comments
2007-08-14 14:13:36
1.   Simone
RIP, Scooter. I was giggling yesterday when ESPN showed the film of the cow knocking over Scooter. Ha, he was a treasure.
2007-08-14 14:19:29
2.   Cliff Corcoran
Treasure all 29 minutes and 37 seconds of his Hall of Fame speech over at the official site. It's the perfect way to remember him.

http://web.baseballhalloffame.org/index.jsp

2007-08-14 14:25:38
3.   thelarmis
i will re-watch my Rizzuto Yankeeography dvd late nite sometime this week.

his voice has been ringing in my ears all day. not anything specific, just the timbre of it has filled my inner ear. i miss him.

2007-08-14 14:29:48
4.   cult of basebaal
1 as i said in the other thread, i saw that last night too ... i didn't catch that they said it was from Rizzuto day back in '85 (i hadn't seen the clip before), so i thought it was from last night ... when i heard he had passed away today, my first thought was that the run in with the cow was responsible and felt even worse
2007-08-14 14:33:59
5.   Cliff Corcoran
1 In which case you probably don't know that Tom Seaver won his 300th game (as a White Sock) at Yankee Stadium on Phil Rizzuto Day. A few years later, Seaver became Rizzuto's broadcasting partner after Bill White left and Rizzuto managed to work that fact into what seemed like every single game, ribbing Seaver about how he had ruined his Day.
2007-08-14 14:34:43
6.   Cliff Corcoran
5 I can hear him now "Oh, Seavah, you huckleberry, you'll never let me forget that . . ."
2007-08-14 14:38:04
7.   Josh Wilker
3 : I watched that speech today and it made me laugh until I cried. I love how it turns into a rock concert near the end, fans shouting out the names of players they want Scooter to talk about.
2007-08-14 14:40:08
8.   Shaun P
"A day without cannolis is like a day without sunshine."

I cannot think of Phil Rizzuto and not think about cannolis. In 1994, the Thursday before Hall of Fame weekend, I got a call in the morning from my dad's cousin Steve. He (and three other cousins of my dad) had taken over the family's Italian pastry shop when my great uncle decided to retire. I worked for them, but had that day off. Steve was making a delivery, and wondered if I wanted to come along. "Where to?" I asked. "Cooperstown," he said. The Hall of Fame, he said, wanted cannolis for the Scooter's induction weekend. (When you want good cannolis in upstate NY, you call my cousins' pastry shop.) "Are you kidding!?!?" I screamed. So I went along for the ride, to help deliver more cannolis than I had ever seen in one place at one time. Not long after, my cousins received a hand-written note thanking them for the delicious cannolis, "some of the best we've ever had, and every bit as good as the ones your uncle would send from time to time", signed Phil and Cora Rizzuto.

A couple of years later (I think it was 1996, but I'm not sure), Scooter was doing an autograph tour through New York State. It was a Sunday when he came to Utica, and my father, my brother and I went to the signing. Along the way, we stopped to get him a box of cannolis from my cousins' shop. Not only did the Scooter remember the cannolis, he shook all our hands and thanked us profusely. He had wanted very badly to stop at my cousins' shop that day, but his travel schedule didn't leave him any time (the shop closed at 6 on Sundays, and the signing ran until 6). He was so pleased, he insisted we take an extra minute and have a cannoli with him.

He was every bit the classy gentleman, wonderful talker, and 'loopy uncle' I had grown up as a Yankee fan with. To have that confirmed in person made my summer.

2007-08-14 14:46:58
9.   Oscar Azocar
The second game I ever went to was on Phil Rizzuto day. I wasn't a happy camper as we got stuck in traffic, so we didn't get to the game until right at the start of the 1st inning, after the festivities had ended. I was just getting into baseball, and was wondering who this Tom Seaver guy was, and why the hell were there so many Met fans to see a Yanks/ChiSox game. I felt it was an absolute injustice that the Yankees lost on the Scooter's day.

Years later, when Tom Seaver became a Yankee broadcaster, I remember how Scooter never forgot to remind Seaver about his 300th win on Phil's day.

RIP Scooter. I learned baseball from you. Wherever you are, I hope that you've beaten the traffic, and and are enjoying a nice cannoli while Casey Stengel shines your shoes :)

2007-08-14 14:48:04
10.   weeping for brunnhilde
8 What a beautiful, heartwarming story, Shaun.

Thank you.

2007-08-14 14:58:38
11.   Cliff Corcoran
8 Awesome. Since I have family in Utica I must ask, what's the name of your family's shop?
2007-08-14 15:00:57
12.   Dan M
I had the pleasure of meeting the Scooter at a Yankees luncheon back in the 80s. I vividly recall that it was the day after Dave Winfield drove in 7 runs in a game. Phil spoke, and afterwards held court.

I was about 9 or 10, with reddish brown hair and freckles. I approached him with a Yankees baseball that I had bought at the Stadium, and (I'm sure meekly) asked him for his autograph. One look at me and he exclaimed, "Holy Cow! You must be Irish! Oh boy...." and he proceeding to sign the ball.

Thanks, Uncle Joe for taking me to the luncheon and letting me meet the Scooter. Thanks to Scooter for the autograph and, of course, everything else.

2007-08-14 15:04:12
13.   Mattpat11
Its funny. I was just watching YES, and they did a fly by of the ballpark, with "Phil Rizzuto 1917-2007" on the board, and I realized I was crying. I've never met the man. I'm too young to have seen him play, or really heard him announce (I'm 20 and the earliest baseball memories I have are 1993, so I caught the very tail end)

But there are some people that are just so inherently decent and good natured and friendly that you feel like you've known them all your life. I'm gonna miss the guy.

Rest in Peace, Scooter.

2007-08-14 15:28:08
14.   weeping for brunnhilde
He really was the goofy uncle we all loved.

Now I'm starting to get sad too, him and his cannoli and throwback pride for all things Italian.

Him and White bickering like an old married couple.

Endless summers of childhood.

A shortstop from the days shortstops were, well, short.

I remember when Derek came up thinking, "Jesus, isn't he a little tall for a shortstop?"

He just looked all wrong out there.

Because to me, though I never saw him scoot, Scooter was the quintessential shortstop.

Laying down the bunt, scooting this way and that, like a vacuum scooter.

All this from my imagination, because I never saw the man play.

And now he's gone.

Rest in Peace, Scooterman.

Rest in Peace.

2007-08-14 15:31:29
15.   weeping for brunnhilde
Look at him choking up.

Sends shivers up my spine.

2007-08-14 15:33:57
16.   weeping for brunnhilde
Wow, not only did he choke up, but actually kind of charged the pitch, like a women's softball player.
2007-08-14 15:38:34
17.   Flip Play
8 >>>"A day without cannolis is like a day without sunshine."

So is a day without Phil Rizzuto.

RIP, Scooter.

2007-08-14 15:45:22
18.   yankz
Pete has some audio up of Yogi talking about Scooter.
2007-08-14 15:47:34
19.   cult of basebaal
pinstriped bible is about scooter ... some interesting info in there about the "stengel incident"

http://www.yesnetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070814&content_id=1429534&oid=36019&vkey=5

2007-08-14 15:59:43
20.   DarrenF
I always thought Scooter knew more about the game than all the blowhards, but he also knew it was just a game. "Holy Cow, McCarver, you're one smart cookie."

One memory that stands out out of a zillion is the time Andy Hawkins lost a no-hitter on several walks and three errors (?). When Leyritz (?) dropped the third fly ball of the inning, Rizzuto screams, "What's comin' off here?" Instead of crying, you had to laugh.

2007-08-14 16:02:50
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
20 Heh heh heh.

Nice.

:)

2007-08-14 16:05:54
22.   OldYanksFan
3 I just watched Phil's HOF ceremony for the first time. I really don't know much about public speaking and which skills are required. But if some of them are good natured self deprecation, honoring of family and friends, being real and in the moment, respect for the past, a repore with the audience...

"They sent me to New Guinea... I really expected to meet a lot of Italians there"

and an intuitive sense of humor, well... I guess that would make Scooter about the best there is.

As a kid, I seem to remember a broadcast booth with Rizzuto, Joe G. and Jerry Coleman. Has there every been a more entertaining and knowledgeable group then this? The Yankees weren't much of a team back then. I know myself, listening to Rizzuto, was as much a part of the game as the game itself.

He will never be forgotten or replaced. It's a great loss for everyone, especially for his immediate family and his extended family of millions who dearly loved their 'Uncle'.

2007-08-14 16:20:40
23.   Sliced Bread
One of my closest friends growing up was a full-blooded Italian whose family made frequent trips to the old country. He'd teach me words and phrases he learned over there, most of them not the type you'd use at the dinner table.
One of the g-rated Italian words he taught me during our early teens was 'simpatico' which he described as friendly, affable, good natured, warm hearted, etc.
As he was running through the synonyms, trying to think of someone who'd be an example of simpatico I offered, "Like Phil Rizzuto." He said, "Exactly! Scooter is simpatico."
My friend also taught me that it's considered a great compliment, a special distinction to be regarded as simpatico, that it's not a word you throw around to describe everybody you know. Some people are more likeable, more simpatico than others, you know?
Since that day I've regarded Phil Rizzuto as the shining example of simpatico. Look it up in the dictionary and there's Scooter's mug, right?
As I think back on all the summer nights spent with Scooter, either in front of my old 13 inch black and white set, or in the living room with my dad -- I remember a voice that always made me smile. I remember a face that was always friendly. I remember a great baseball man, a proud New York Yankee who, by all accounts, was the definition of simpatico.
Grazie, Scooter Rizzuto. May you rest in peace.
2007-08-14 16:22:05
24.   Chyll Will
I posted this at my own spot, but I'm more than happy to have it here as part of your collection, Cliff.

"I won't attempt to give a biography and retrospect of the man, for I only knew him in my lifetime as a television icon for the New York Yankees. Of course he was a winning shortstop on many winning Yankee teams in their 40-50s dynasty, but in my time he was known as the affable homer "Scooter", coloring the Yankee games with a unique set of crayons with his pal and fellow booth mate Bill White. "Holy Cow" was such a signature saying that it even spawned, among other things, an ice cream parlor in upstate Red Hook, NY.

You see, my family and I were log-cabining in Norrie State Park in Staatsburg, and since we liked exploring, we'd either walk or ride around the countryside, taking in the beautiful scenery. By chance, we passed a plaza and Mom yells out, "Holy Cow!" Thinking she was being nutty again, I shook my head and kept daydreaming, when Dorothy nudged me in the side. "No, really – Holy Cow!" she said, pointing out the window. To our left, we were passing a ranch-type building with big block letters on the roof, which read, "Holy Cow! Ice Cream Parlor" That was a helluva laugh, to be sure.

The next day, Mom had a notion, and we drove right back up the same route, pulling into the lot next to the parlor. We went inside, greeted by a bright interior with pictures of cows wearing Yankee caps and framed newspaper clippings about the store, among other things. One of those other things happened to be a picture, personally inscribed by the man himself, with a huge smile on his face:

"Holy Cow! With a name like that, it's gotta be good ice cream!" Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto.

And you know what? It definitely was.

Scooter was as much the face of the Yankees as Ruth, DiMaggio, Yogi, Mantle, Steinbrenner, Reggie, Donnie and Jeter. But as opposed to them (with the exception of Yogi), Phil was one of us. It was the reverence for the man as a homegrown icon of our youthful experiences and our everyday lives that finally elected him to the Hall of Fame, more than his numbers as a player. I suppose had Buck O'Neill, another player of his generation from the Negro Leagues, who became the goodwill ambassador of baseball itself, simply been a Yankee at any point of his career, I think there would be no question at all about his place in the pantheons of the Hall of Fame. But that takes nothing away from Scooter. He defined an era for not only Yankee teams, but Yankee fans. His signature call was honest and clean; definitely rooting for the home team as much as Harry Carey, but just as much welcome in its place. And, teamed with the impeccable Bill White (who went on to become National League President), they became in my opinion one of the most significant tandems in broadcast history.

I'm thinking that this weekend, I'd like to go upstate to Red Hook and get myself a large soft-serving of chocolate-vanilla twist-in-a-cup with sprinkles. Rest in peace, Scooter, you did good. >;)"

2007-08-14 20:49:01
25.   joejoejoe
Seeing Yogi on ESPN it really hit me and I found myself crying. Phil Rizzuto had retired 13 years before I was born but he was such a big part of my life growing up both as an announcer and as part of the stories my uncles would tell growing up.

As an uncle myself many years later I used to use Phil Rizzuto's name with my nephew when he was small -- he had a minor speech problem and to help him sound things out I used to use Phil Rizzuto's name as a something fun that would put him at ease. At first he would repeat back 'Phil Bazippo' when I tried to get him to say Scooter's name. As his speech improved he would still sometimes say 'Phil Bazippo' on purpose because it made me smile. Phil Rizzuto was like a magic word, like Abracadabra.

Somebody asked Yogi on ESPN what kind of player and teammate Phil Rizzuto was and Yogi, all choked up, said something like 'Boy he could play shortshop. He could hit, bunt, run. He's in the Hall of Fame, isn't he?'.

Rest in Peace Scooter. You were loved and will be missed.

2007-08-14 20:51:00
26.   joejoejoe
Note: via the LoHud audio, Yogi said Rizzuto used Johnny Mize's 36/35 bat during his 1950 MVP season. That's some lumber for a 5'6" 160 pound shortstop to be swinging!
2007-08-15 00:51:08
27.   Shaun P
11 The Florentine, on Bleeker St. -
http://www.theicecreamcellar.com/florentine.htm

(The second picture down on the left is my Uncle Gabriele, who was, like so many other Italian immigrants, a huge Yankees fan, because of DiMaggio, Yogi, and the Scooter.)

2007-08-15 05:56:27
28.   Murray
What I liked best about Phil Rizzuto was the sense of joy he brought to the broadcast booth. Scooter knew that a baseball game was supposed to be fun, not a stock market update.
2007-08-15 16:21:27
29.   nyy jim
28 I agree. I will never forget when they did one of those close up shots of the moon and the Scooter saying, "Hey is that Texas?" He knew the game and brought so much joy to it with his wacky sense of humor. He will be missed.

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