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August 15, 2007

Holy Cow … NY Yankee Legend Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Dies at 89

Posted in: Celebrity,Deceased,Obituary,Sports

Beloved NY Yankee Hall of Fame shortstop and announcer Phil Rizzuto passed away.  Phil Rizzuto was one of the few links we had left to the immortals of baseball past. A tremendous player who made so many chuckle with his quirky personality. The Scooter was a true original and a one of a kind individual. He will be missed.

NY Yankee Hall of Fame Shortstop and former Yankee broadcaster, Phil Rizzuto is dead at the age of 89. The Scooter died from complications to pneumonia as he was in failing health over the past couple of years. However, this should be about Phil Rizzuto’s life, not his death. The Scooter was a part of the legendary Yankee Dynasties in the late 1940′s into the 1950′s.

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 won 8 World Series championships, including 5 in a row from 1949 to 1953.

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

NY Yankee owner George Steinbrenner commented today that, “Heaven must have needed a shortstop”.

“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.”

Rizzuto was the oldest living Hall of Famer and his Cooperstown plaque noted how he “overcame diminutive size.” At 5-foot-6, he played over his head, winning seven World Series titles and an AL MVP award and becoming a five-time All-Star.

Here are just a few of some other baseball blogs remembering the passing of The Scooter:

I am a die hard Boston Red Sox fan like this guy; however, anyone who is a baseball fan loved the Scooter’s dedication, determination and effort. In later years as a NY Yankee announcer, never was anyone more biased toward his beloved Yankees than the Scooter. He could get away with it because he was the Scooter.  No one ever made a pop out to deep short more exciting than Rizzuto did when the Yankees were at bat. He was such an entertaining man. Phil Rizzuto also transcended baseball as how many Baseball Hall of Famers and announcers actually have sang on a classic cult hit record? Phil Rizzuto did when his baseball commentary was added to Meatloaf’s, Paradise by the Dashboard Light (video).

Ok here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here, two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth, theres the windup,
And there it is, a line shot up the middle, look at him go. this boy can really
Fly! hes rounding first and really turning it on now, hes not letting up at
All, hes gonna try for second; the ball is bobbled out in center, and here
Comes the throw, and what a throw! hes gonna slide in head first, here he
Comes, hes out! no, wait, safe – safe at second base, this kid really makes
Things happen out there. batter steps up to the plate heres the pitch – he’s
Going, and what a jump hes got, hes trying for third, heres the throw, its
In the dirt – safe at third! holy cow, stolen base! hes taking a pretty big
Lead out there, almost daring him to try and pick him off. the pitcher glances
Over, winds up, and it bunted, bunted down the third base line, the suicide
Squeeze is on! here he comes, squeeze play, its gonna be close, heres the
Throw, heres the play at the plate, holy cow, I think hes gonna make it! (Phil Rizzuto)

From one one future shortstop Baseball Hall of Famer to a Yankee legend, Derek Jeter recalls time with Rizzuto; Shortstop reflects on special bond with Yankees legend Phil Rizzuto.

“You’d get those two together and they’d embrace,” said Yankees manager Joe Torre, recalling the moments when Rizzuto would finally locate his target near the dugout. “Of course, he was half Jeter’s size. Whether it was a shortstop connection or the Yankees, spending your whole career in the same uniform, I think there was an automatic bond there.”

I will miss and have missed for some time now the Scooter using the phrase, “Holy Cow” or Rizzuto calling someone a “Huckleberry”. I could only laugh when The Scooter used to leave announcing the Yankee games early to beat the traffic accross the bridge. He was an original of which God broke the mold. You will be missed Phil, God bless and rest in peace.

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