Former New York Yankees shortstop and broadcaster Phil Rizzuto passed away at the age of 89 today. While old school Yankees fans will remember him as a scrappy player, younger fans will remember him as the lovable broadcaster on radio and on superstation WPIX-TV. As a Red Sox fan, I couldn’t stand the Yankees, but I couldn’t hate Rizzuto on the air because he was funny. He never talked about the game. He talked about everything else, but that’s what made Phil lovable. Listening to him was actually a joy. Plus, the joke was that if the game went to extra innings, he would be on the George Washington Bridge driving home to New Jersey trying to beat the traffic. Not many people could get away with that, but Phil could because fans loved him.
It took until 1994 to get him into the Hall of Fame. The Veterans Committee voted him in and his friend, Joe DiMaggio led a massive campaign to get him inducted. And when he finally got in, his speech was truly one of the funniest. It is truly sad to hear of his passing.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News remembers Rizzuto. In the New York Post, Kevin Kernan has a profile piece of Rizzuto. Kernan also talks with Rizzuto’s widow, the lovely Cora. In Newsday, Bob Herzog writes about the life of Rizzuto. Richard Sandomir has the story from the New York Times’ perspective.
The New York Yankees’ website has a special section devoted to the Scooter, plus it has the video of his memorable Hall of Fame Induction speech in 1994. I’m sure the YES Network will have a tribute to him during its pregame show tonight. Former New York Post writer Phil Pepe has a remembrance of Rizzuto on the YES website.
Phil will be missed.