August 14, 2007

The Scooter heads for Home.


Prayer for the Captain

There's a little prayer I always say Whenever I think of my family or when I'm flying,

When I'm afraid, and I am afraid of flying. It's just a little one. You can say it no matter what, Whether you're Catholic or Jewish or Protestant or whatever.

And I've probably said it a thousand times

Since I heard the news on Thurman Munson.

It's not trying to be maudlin or anything.

His Eminence, Cardinal Cooke, is going to come out

And say a little prayer for Thurman Munson. But this is just a little one I say time and time again, It's just: Angel of God, Thurman's guardian dear,

To whom his love commits him here there or everywhere, Ever this night and day be at his side,

To light and guard, to rule and guide.

For some reason it makes me feel like I'm talking to Thurman, Or whoever's name you put in there,

Whether it be my wife or any of my children, my parents or anything.

It's just something to keep you really from going bananas. Because if you let this, If you keep thinking about what happened, and you can't understand it, That's what really drives you to despair.

Faith. You gotta have faith. You know, they say time heals all wounds, And I don't quite agree with that a hundred percent.

It gets you to cope with wounds.

You carry them the rest of your life.

The Man in the Moon

The Yankees have had a traumatic four days.

Actually five days. That terrible crash with Thurman Munson. To go through all that agony, And then today,

You and I along with the rest of the team

Flew to Canton for the services, And the family....

Very upset.

You know, it might,

It might sound corny. But we have the most beautiful full moon tonight. And the crowd, Enjoying whatever is going on right now.

They say it might sound corny,

But to me it's some kind of a, Like an omen.

Both the moon and Thurman Munson, Both ascending up into heaven.

I just can't get it out of my mind.

I just saw that full moon, And it just reminded me of Thurman.

And that's it.

To Be Alone

Hey White You know where your loyalties are?

Right here.

The old pinstripes.


You never wore them

So you have a right to sing the blues.

These Heaters

They're no good. Because at my height It goes over my head And hits the guy in back of me.

I mean...

They were not built, These heaters were not built For normal human beings.

They were built for people like Seaver.

The Diamond Dude (Ogden Nash, September 5, 1955, Life)

In the life of this dandiest of shortstops
Fashion starts the moment sports stops.
Since he works for the Newark American Shop
Of which Mac Stresin is the Prop,
The wardrobe acquired by Phil Rizzuto
Is as tasty as melon and prosciutto.
Thirty-five suits and twenty-odd jackets
Proclaim he's a man in the upper brackets.
There are fifteen overcoats hung in line,
And twenty-five pairs of shoes to shine,
And as for shirts and ties and socks,
Philip has more than Maine has rocks.
The suits are neat and unostentatious,
But as for sports clothes, goodness gracious!
No similar sight is to be had
This side of Gary Crosby's dad.
Does this make Mrs. Rizzuto ecstatic?
No. She has to hang her clothes in the attic.

-AUDIO: Phil Rizzuto calls Roger Maris' 61st homerun (Minneapolis star Tribune, August 14, 2007)
-JOE DIMAGGIO: Baseball great Joe Dimaggio died at age 84 after complications of lung cancer surgery. Phil Ponce talks about his life with teammate Phil Rizzuto, New Yorker editor Roger Angell and essayist Roger Rosenblatt. (On-Line Newshour, March 8, 1999)
-New Pride of the Yankees (TIME, Nov. 06, 1950)
-OBIT: 'Scooter' Rizzuto dies at 89: Hall of Famer was Yankees All-Star shortstop, broadcaster (Jack O'Connell, 8/14/07,
-OBIT: Rizzuto, Yankee Hall of Famer, dies at age 89 ( news services, August 14, 2007)
-Yankees' Rizzuto dies at 89 (Ben Walker, 8/14/07, AP)
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, died Tuesday. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by the Yankees. Rizzuto had been in declining health for several years and was living at a nursing home in West Orange, N.J.

Rizzuto, known as "The Scooter," was the oldest living Hall of Famer. He played for the Yankees throughout the 1940s and '50s, won seven World Series titles, was an AL MVP and played in five All-Star games.

Rizzuto later announced Yankees games for four decades and his No. 10 was retired by baseball's most storied team.

"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."

-OBIT: Phil Rizzuto, Yankees Shortstop, Dies at 89 (RICHARD SANDOMIR, 8/14/07, NY Times)
Phil Rizzuto, the sure-handed Hall of Fame Yankees shortstop nicknamed The Scooter, who punctuated his extended Yankee life as a broadcaster with birthday wishes to nuns and exclamations of “Holy cow!” died today. He was 89. His death was confirmed by the Yankees. Rizzuto played for the Yankees from 1941 to 1956. His departure was abrupt. No longer willing to carry an aging, seldom-used infielder, the team cut him on Old-Timers’ Day. Soon after, he began calling Yankee games for WPIX-TV/Channel 11 and did not leave that role until 1996.

Rizzuto played an integral role on the dynastic Yankees before and after World War II. He was a masterly bunter and defensive specialist for teams that steamrolled to 10 American League pennants and nine World Series championships. He was one of 12 Yankees on teams that swept to five consecutive World Series triumphs, from 1949 to 1953.

He was a 5-foot-6-inch, 150-pound sparkplug who did the little things right, from turning the pivot on a double play to laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt. He left the slugging to powerful teammates like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Tommy Henrich, Charlie Keller and Yogi Berra.

“I hustled and got on base and made the double play,” he said of his role. “That’s all the Yankees needed in those days.”

-WIKIPEDIA: Phil Rizzuto
-STATS: Phil Rizzuto (Baseball Reference)
-REVIEW: The Great Phil Rizzuto Debate: a review of THE POLITICS OF GLORY How Baseball's Hall of Fame Really Works by Bill James (MURRAY CHASS, NY Times)
-REVIEW: Poet in Pinstripes: a review of O HOLY COW! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto. Edited by Tom Peyer and Hart Seely. Introduction by Roy Blount Jr. (ROBERT PINSKY, NY Times Book Review)

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 14, 2007 12:15 PM

Only the Scooter and his unique brand of naiveté could get away with this one. But he done it good.

I never saw him play, but his broadcasting career – from calling Maris 61 to his incongruous banter with Fran Healy – left a wonderful, indelible mark.

Here’s a Holy Cow for you Phil!

Posted by: SwaddlingDucks at August 14, 2007 12:49 PM

The Empire mourns.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at August 14, 2007 2:12 PM

Didn't Phil do the broadcast for Meatloaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light"?

Posted by: pchuck at August 14, 2007 3:13 PM

We shouldn't let Phil's last years as a broadcaster obscure most of his work....I have the '78 Red Sox playoff game on video, and Scooter and White give some of the most-observant, low-key announcing I've ever heard.

Of course, I'm a fan of the later Rizzuto, as well, and still miss his complaints about the bugs in Kansas City, the lightning in Texas and the traffic on the GW Bridge after games.

Posted by: Foos at August 14, 2007 4:58 PM


Sandomir's obit of Scooter in the Times has a link to audio from a 1974 game in Anaheim in which Rizzuto pleads for White to take the microphone from him so he can get some shelter from a lightning storm. Classic stuff.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at August 14, 2007 5:39 PM

Scooter was actually old enough to have played for a few years in the era where you left your glove in the field when you went up to bat and both teammates and opponents took great delight in putting bugs, worms, dead birds, etc., in the glove to freak him out.

Posted by: oj at August 14, 2007 7:24 PM

When did WWII start?

Posted by: Steve at August 14, 2007 10:01 PM