“The Scooter” Phil Rizzuto

“Holy Cow”, was my first reaction when the mlblogs Fan “Leader’s List” was released last week with my mlblog, “Baseball, The Yankees, and Life”, ranked #10, on that, January 29 – February 4, 2009 list. Of course, the “Holy Cow” refers to one of the most famous expressions by the all-time great “Hall of Fame” New York Yankees shortstop, #10, “The Scooter” Phil Rizzuto, during his long distinguished 40 year broadcasting career announcing Yankee games, after he retired from playing his whole baseball career with the Yankees.

Rizzuto was also famous for calling everybody a “huckleberry” during his days announcing Yankee games, as well as, reading out birthday wishes to viewers during the games, as he awaited the arrival of the “cannolis” and other assorted pastries and cakes in the broadcast booth, gifts of appreciaion from many Yankee fans that received so much joy listening to one of the most recognizable voices in baseball broadcast history.

Phil Rizzuto was an “American Original”, and one of the most beloved players and announcers in New York Yankees history.

The “Scooter” was also one of the greatest shortstops in baseball history, playing his whole baseball career with the Yankees during the years, 1941-1956.

Rizzuto’s career was interrupted, though, when he was called to serve our Country in the United States Navy during World War II, from 1943 through 1945. During this time in the military, Rizzuto also played on the Navy baseball team, managed by the great Yankees catcher, Bill Dickey.  

Rizzuto played on 10 American League Championship teams, appearing in nine World Series in which the Yankees won seven World Championships. He still holds numerous World Series records for shortstops, including: most career games played; singles; walks; times on base; stolen bases; at-bats; putouts; assists; and, turning double plays. He also won the Babe Ruth Award in 1951 as the best player in the ’51 World Series, batting .320 in the Yankees World Series victory over the New York Giants.

Throughout Rizzuto’s career in regular season play, he was regarded as one the finest fielding shortstops of his era, taking part in 1,217 double plays, the second highest total in Major League Baseball history at the time of his retirement in 1956.

To grasp the value of Phil Rizzuto on the Championship Yankee teams he played on in the 1940’s and ’50’s, the great Yankees pitcher, Vic Raschi, said: “my best pitch is anything the batter grounds, lines, or pops in the direction of Rizzuto.” Great praise, indeed.

Phil Rizzuto won the 1950 American League MVP Award with a .324 batting average, after finishing second in the MVP voting in 1949 to the great Boston Red Sox leftfielder, Ted Williams.

1950 was Phil Rizzuto’s best year with the Yankees, as he scored 125 runs, with 200 hits; 92 base-on-balls; 36 doubles; 7 triples; 7 homeruns; 66 RBI’s; while striking out only 39 times, recording a .324 batting average; and .418 on-base percentage, batting 617 times in 155 games.

Probably the greatest praise of how valuable Phil Rizzuto was to the New York Yankees, came many years later from Ted Williams. While a member of the “Veterans Committee”, stating the case for Rizzuto’s induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame, Williams argued, “Rizzuto was the main difference between the Yankees and Red Sox. If we had Rizzuto in Boston we would have won all those pennants [during that era] instead of the Yankees.”

Phil Rizzuto played on seven World Series winning teams; appeared in five All-Star games; had his #10 retired by the Yankees in 1985; and, was enshrined in Baseball’s “Hall of Fame” in 1994.

In addition to the praise given by Ted Williams, much praise in honor of the greatness of Phil Rizzuto through the years was given by many who watched Rizzuto play, including, Ty Cobb, who said, “Phil Rizzuto and Stan Musial were two of the few modern players [at the time] who could hold their own among the old-timers.”

The great Yankees Manager, Casey Stengel, said, “Rizzuto is the greatest shortstop I have ever seen in my entire baseball career, and I have watched some beauties.”

And, Joe DiMaggio, decades after his retirement, said, “People loved watching me play baseball. Scooter, they just loved.” 

Well, that final quote by the great Joe DiMaggio, kind of sums up how all Yankee fans, and many throughout baseball felt about Phil Rizzuto, including myself, as I credit “The Scooter” for helping me become a life-long/die-hard Yankees fan, listening to Phil talk about the great Yankee players, teams, and tradition, in the broadcast booth, from my first days following baseball and the New York Yankees.

Scooter, you are missed; and, will always be loved by all Yankee and baseball fans.

Thank You, for all the memories. 

 

To view Phil Rizzuto’s lifetime stats, click on …

http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/rizzuph01.shtml

To view Phil Rizzuto’s biography, click on …

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Rizzuto

 

Thank You, to all who have visited my mlblog !!!

— Jimmy Curran, “Baseball, The Yankees, and Life”

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25 comments

  1. juliasrants

    Jimmy what a great piece! I knew some about Phil Rizzuto from his playing days but I will admit I didn’t know much from his time as a broadcaster for the Yankees. You have to love what announcers can do for the game. Johnny Most, a great announcer for the Boston Celtics was the same way. He made NO excuse; he was a Celtics fan through and through and had the voice and the passion where you would turn down the volume on the TV to hear him on the radio! — And the kind words for Rizzuto from the other players? It really does make you wish for the simpler days when baseball seemed so much more innocent. But we can rejoice today – Catchers & Pitchers report! The games are almost here! Have a great day Jimmy!

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

  2. Jane Heller

    I miss Scooter, Jimmy. I was so sad when I heard the news of his passing while I was on the road for the book. I remember sitting in a restaurant in Manhattan and thinking what a loss it was. He was a true original – not just another talking head by any means. Thanks for the wonderful tribute to him.

    http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

  3. jimmy27nyy

    Thanks, Julia …

    Phil Rizzuto brought much joy into my life, and the lives of most, if not all, Yankee and baseball fans, who had the pleasure of listening to him in the broadcast booth, announcing Yankee games !!! … Everyone who listened to Rizzuto announce the games knew he was a great Yankees player and Yankees fan — and, that’s okay !!! … In my view, there is nothing wrong with announcers being fans of the teams they broadcast for, especially, former great players such as Phil Rizzuto !!! … I never heard Johnny Most announce games, but I think it is great that he was the same kind of announcer as Rizzuto !!! … These announcers, who are obviously fans of the teams they broadcast for, make the games much more fun to watch !!! … And, that’s what baseball needs with all the “steroids talk” of late … Like you said in your comments, Julia, I think we all “wish for the simpler days when baseball seemed so much more innocent.” … Also, we need to hear more quotes from former great players, about the great players they watched play, either their own teammates, or opposing great players, which will bring back many wonderful memories from the rich history and tradition of our great American Pastime, “Baseball” !!! … Hearing the quotes about Phil Rizzuto from such baseball greats as Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb, Casey Stengel, etc., really made me appreciate [even more] the value of Phil Rizzuto to the New York Yankees !!! . Juia, thanks again for the kind words and excellent comments !!! Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  4. raysrenegade

    I have always like Phil Rizzuto. He is so fan friendly and open to talk to complete strangers about baseball.

    And what endeared me to him was his monologue in Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights”. Who else but this legendary Yankee could have pulled that off with such class and skill.

    He is one of the reasons my dad like the Yankees as a kid. Swift at the shortstop hole, and smiled even after a bad game.

    Rays Renegade

    http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

  5. jimmy27nyy

    Thanks, Bob …

    Yeah, I also wish I had seen Phil Rizzuto play during his days on many great Yankee Championship teams in the 1940’s and 1950’s !!! … But, by listening to Rizzuto in the broadcast booth, announcing Yankee games, and re-telling many stories from the past, this gave much joy to Yankee and baseball fans by letting us re-live these many great memories through “The Scooter’s” eyes and thoughts !!! … Phil Rizzuto was one of the all-time greats in baseball history; and, also, one of the all-time greats in the baseball broadcast booth !!! … He always made the games more fun to watch !!! … Bob, thanks for your visit, and nice comments !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  6. jimmy27nyy

    Hey, Kaybee …

    Phil Rizzuto was a “gem”, and a very nice guy loved by all !!! … He brought much joy into everybody’s life who watched him play, and, or, listened to him announce Yankee games throughout his over 50 years in baseball !!! … I was happy to share my thoughts [in my above post] about Phil Rizzuto’s brilliant baseball and boadcasting career; and, I’m glad that you, and other viewers of my blog, have enjoyed reading about “The Scooter”, who was a great “Hall of Famer”, on the baseball diamond and in the broadcast booth !!! … Kaybee, thank you for your visit and nice thoughts !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  7. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Jane …

    Thank you for the kind words !!! … I was also very sad when I heard of Phil Rizzuto’s passing, about a year and a half ago !!! … The “Scooter” brought much joy to all of us who had the pleasure of either watching him play, and, or listening to him in the broadcast booth !!! … Phil Rizzuto will always be missed; and, he will always live forever in all our hearts !!! … Jane, thanks again, for your visit and nice comments !!! Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  8. Erin Kathleen

    Congratulations on being number 10, Jimmy! And what a lovely tribute to Phil Rizzuto! Besides being one of the greatest shortstops of all time, he was also a genuine class act. The Yankees were really blessed to have him as a member of the organization.
    -Erin
    http://plunking-gomez.mlblogs.com

  9. Elizabeth D

    Jimmy,
    Congrats on being number ten! And great entry on Rizzuto! Looks like he had a great career, and interesting sentiments by none other than Ted Williams! Having him on the Sox would have made a real difference. A great shortstop and a great announcer– sounds like he is a lot of fun.
    -Elizabeth
    http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

  10. scofid

    When I hear people say that Derek Jeter is the greatest shortstop in franchise history, I always get a feeling of sadness as I remember Scooter. Hopefully, his place in Yankee history will never be forgotten…

    Scott
    http://fotr.mlblogs.com

  11. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Tom …

    Like you said, “getting compliments from Ted Williams that you are a great player” kind of says it all !!! … I never seen either Phil Rizzuto or Ted Williams play; and, certainly if I could go back in time to watch any baseball players in history, both Rizzuto and Williams would be towards the top of my list of players I would want to see play !!! ….. I think the praise Ted Williams gave in honor of Phil Rizzutto, are words any ballplayer would want to hear !!! … Thanks for the visit, Tom !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  12. jimmy27nyy

    Hey, Raysrenegade …

    The way Phil Rizzuto was in the broadcast booth, was the way he was all the time … Rizzuto loved being a Yankee as a player, and announcer; and, really enjoyed all the attention he received as one of the all-time fan favorites of the New York Yankees !!! … Phil Rizzuto had such a great life, being in Baseball for over 50 years as a member of the Yankees organization … You really can’t beat that, doing what you enjoy all your life !!! … And, yes, recording that famous soundtrack for part of Meatloaf’s classic song, “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights”, was a great way for Rizzuto to be honored forever in the music of one of my favorite all-time songs, which I think is one of the greatest songs in music history — is priceles !!! … I also think, Phil Rizzuto is part of one of the great trivia questions of all-time: Who is the only major league ballplayer to win both the MVP Award and a Grammy? Well, of course, the answer is: Phil Rizzuto !!! [well, I think the song won, and Rizzuto shared the honors with Meatloaf] … Very special !!! … Both our dad’s were lucky to see Phil Rizzuto play; and, I know we both wish we also could have seen him play !!! … I was very happy, though, to have been able to hear the Scooter announce the Yankee games all the years he was in the Yankees broadcast booth .. Thanks for the visit and great comments !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  13. jimmy27nyy

    Thanks, Erin …

    Phil Rizzuto was truly a class act !!! … Everyone in the Yankees organization, including the fans, were as you said, “blessed to have Rizzuto as a member of the organization”. He brought so much joy to my life, and the lives of many other Yankee and baseball fans !!! … Thanks again for the visit, Erin !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  14. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, William [neal07] …

    Phil Rizzuto and Bobby Murcer, who both passed away within the past couple of years, are the two Yankees that I miss the most !!! … Bobby is my favorite all-time Yankee player; and, both, Rizzuto and Murcer are my favorite Yankee broadcasters … Both are greatly missed because they were a link to the great Yankees history and tradition of the past [Rizzuto going back to the late 1930’s to the middle of the 1990’s; and, Murcer, continuing that tradition from the late 1960’s up to last year, 2008] … With their passing, the link to the Yankees rich history and tradition really only has Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford left from the 1940’s and 1950’s era !!! … But, the memories of Phil Rizzuto and Bobby Murcer will always be alive in all our hearts !!! … Thanks, for the visit, and comments, William [neal07] !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  15. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Elizabeth … Thank you !!!

    I respect Ted Williams very much; and, reading the great praise he had for Phil Rizzuto, saying “the Red Sox would have won all those pennants, not the Yankees, if Rizzuto was the Boston shortstop”, is really priceless !! … Phil Rizzuto has Ted Williams and Yogi Berra to thank for being enshrined into Baseball’s “Hall of Fame”, as both made a very strong case about Rizzuto’s greatness and value to the New York Yankees all the years he played for them !!! … Phil Rizzuto was a great shortstop [who I never had the pleasure of watching on the playing field]; but, truly enjoyed the many years I had the pleasure of listening to him announce Yankee games !!! … He was always fun to listen to; always making everyone laugh, each and every game he was in the broadcast booth !!! … Phil Rizzuto was very simply one of the “all-time greats”, on the baseball diamond, and in the broadcast booth !!! … Elizabeth, thanks, again, for your visit and comments !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  16. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, Scott …

    Yeah, I totally agree !!! … I never seen Phil Rizzuto play; and, of course, I have seen Derek Jeter play his whole career with the Yankees. So, it is kind of sad that as the years go on, and Jeter gets his 3,000th hit [and, many more], as well as, setting other all-tme Yankee records, etc., many fans will forget, or not even know, how great and valuable Rizzuto was as the Yankees “Hall of Fame” shortstop in the 1940’s and 1950’s !!! … That’s the great thing about teams retiring their great players numbers. By seeing those retired numbers [such as Rizzuto’s #10], it helps fans to remember these players, by seeing the numbers, and checking-out the players stats !!! … But, even though Derek Jeter will be the first Yankees player to reach the 3,000 hit total, and also set many other Yankee records, Phil Rizzuto did win a MVP Award, [Jeter has not so far] and, “The Scooter” was part of “seven” World Championship Yankee teams [Jeter has only “four” rings so far], and, Rizzuto still holds many WS records by a shortstop. Also, early in Phil Rizzuto’s career, he was called to serve our country in World War II for three of his prime years as a ballplayer [1943, ’44, ’45] … Now, all these points in favor of Rizzuto, by no means, takes away from the geatness of Derek Jeter !!! … There is no question, overall, over a longer period of time, Jeter is probably the better player … But, they both played in different era’s, and that should be considered when discussing both Rizzuto and Jeter !!! … In the end, both Jeter and Rizzuto will always be considered “all-time greats” of the game; and, two of the most beloved players in New York Yankees history !!! … When the Yankees retire Derek Jeter’s #2 at some point after his playing days are over, I will always be proud that both great “Hall of Fame” shortstops were members of the New York Yankees, during their playing days, and forever !!! .. Scott, thanks for the visit, and excellent comments !!! .. Jimmy[27NYY],BY&L

  17. metmainman

    I’ve always loved hearing a good Holy Cow every now and then. That was a great baseball phrase. Rizzuto is pretty underrated if you ask me.
    http://metsmainman.mlblogs.com

    And check out the huge project I’m running on my blog! It’s a community project just I’m running it. I need as many opinions as I can get, and for helping out I’ll make it worth your while. Please check it out!

  18. jimmy27nyy

    Thanks, Julia !!!

    I have been busy, so I am a little backed-up on responding to the comments on my blog; and, also, checking-out other blogs … But, I will check-out your blog and dedication in honor of your #2 ranking as soon as I can !!! … Thanks again, for being the first to inform me when the new “Leader’s List” was posted … And, congratulations on your #2 ranking !!!… You reached #1 on the last leader’s list, and I’m sure you will top the list a few more times throughout the 2009 season !!!… Take care, Julia !!! Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  19. jimmy27nyy

    Hi, metmainman,

    Yeah, Phil Rizzuto was one of the all-time greatest: on the field, at shortstop and in the broadcast booth !!! … I really miss “The Scooter” as he made watching Yankee games so much fun to listen to !!! … He was an “American Classic” who was such a great link to the Yankees awesome history and tradition … Thanks for your visit and comments … I will certainly check-out your blog soon !!! … Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”

  20. btdydfsvysfysdfy@hotmail.com

    I admire him a lot for his ability..He’s incomparable! I think they should not be sad for scooter’s loss because its literal meaning also served and amused a lot of people just like him. The GM PUMA is already drawing fire as GM’s feeble attempt at a green vehicle but I don’t think it’s going to catch on. The GM PUMA is a two wheeled seated electric scooter, co-designed by some of the team that designed the Segway scooter. It’s likely going to cost a payday loan or two to get, at least, as it is designed to be a full service city vehicle. Interest isn’t taking off yet – but it’s still in the development phase. If it does take off, perhaps the taxpayers won’t have to give GM another payday loan because of the success of the GM PUMA.

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