Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Phil Rizzuto... Great as he was, the Scooter didn't always have his wheels on the ground

By J. Thomas Duffy

Though he was before my time, and, growing up in Boston, I wasn't an audience to his long broadcasting career, but there was a twinge of sadness on hearing the news that former New York Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto passed away.

He won an MVP award (1950), played on the powerhouse Yankee teams that won 10 American League pennants and nine World Series championships, including five consecutive WS titles.

He also had his number retired by the Yankees and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

And, when the TV show What's My Line premiered on February 2, 1950, Phil Rizzuto was the very first "mystery guest."

But perhaps, his bigger legacy came in the broadcast booth, shooting into the lexicon, the excited "Holy Cow!", and being diehard pinstripes.

And in his long broadcasting career, Rizzuto was also know for his penchant for gaffes, or not getting the facts correct, or, as the NYT put it "Over four decades in the Yankee announcing booth, Rizzuto transformed himself from a conventional announcer with a distinctly New York voice into an often comic presence."

One such occasion I was witness to.

I was living in Connecticut and could pick up the Yankee games.

It was a hot Saturday, around 1992 or 1993, and I can't remember who the Yankees were playing ...It was an away game, and, at one point, around the third-or-fourth-inning, a Yankee player hit a long fly ball to left field, that the leftfielder caught right in front of, but not quite against the wall, for the third out.

Rizzuto, all excited, called it a homerun ... Then quickly fell silent, and befuddled, as the opposing team was trotting off the field ... Rizzuto was aghast, wondering, on air, why they were leaving the field ... His broadcast partner (who I can't remember) broke the news to him that the ball was caught ...

Rizzuto vehemently disagreed, claiming the ball "was outta here" ...

They went to commercial break with Rizzuto arguing with this partner that it was a homerun

Upon returning from the commercial break, Rizzuto was still not totally convinced, saying "I coulda sworn that ball was outta here ..."

Way to go Scooter ... Say hello to the Mick for us ...

Bonus Links

Phil Rizzuto

Phil Rizzuto for The Money Store

Phil Rizzuto Quotes

(Cross Posted at The Garlic.)

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