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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Remembering late Yankees player and announcer Phil Rizzuto for the kind-hearted man he was

Unless you went to assist him with his single, humungo luggage bag at Newark Airport, as I once learned.

As Monday marks the 5th anniversary of Phil Rizzuto’s passing, I would love to share my personal interactions with the Scooter and hopefully it will shed more light on the kind of person he was.

I was 16 years old in 1970 and my friends and I were leaving Yankee Stadium immediately after a game had ended. We were heading for the 4 Train subway stop when we spotted the Scooter running to his car after announcing the game. Phil lived in Hillside, N.J., and we grew up in nearby Union.

On a whim, I yelled out to him, “Hey Scooter, we live in Hillside (I white-lied). Can you give us a lift?” There were three potential responses to this request from a total stranger. First, and most probable, the Scooter could have (and should have) kept running to his car, ignoring our request. Second, he could have denied our request politely. Instead, we got a “Follow me” out of him and we ran on Cloud Nine to his car.

...Obviously, shyness was not an issue with us and, of course, it was not an issue for the Scooter. While we asked incessant questions, he regaled us with stories. He knew, of course, that he had left a memory with three kids that would never be forgotten. But this story, great as it was to us up to this point, didn’t end here.

When the Scooter asked us where he should drop us off in Hillside, we told him that he could let us out on the Hillside/Union borderline. He then made the mistake (some might call it “his nature”) of telling us that if we ever needed another ride to Yankee Stadium, to just ask him. Needed a ride? Just ask him? Well, we left his car thinking that we always needed a ride into the Stadium with the Scooter!

Repoz Posted: August 12, 2012 at 08:22 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, cannolis, yankees

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   1. The District Attorney Posted: August 12, 2012 at 10:55 AM (#4206713)
So, Phil Rizzuto was crazy.
   2. tfbg9 Posted: August 12, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4206740)
The Scooter was a guest at my brother's wedding. Very very nice man, acted exactly like he did on WPIX.
   3. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4206747)
Unless you went to assist him with his single, humungo luggage bag at Newark Airport, as I once learned.

you may have to explain to the newbies what you're talking about, Repoz
   4. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: August 12, 2012 at 12:55 PM (#4206764)
So, Phil Rizzuto was crazy.
Would that only we were all so crazy.
   5. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: August 12, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4206786)
I don't know what the humungo luggage bag incident was, but I assume that Repoz just set off pings on Scooter's huckleberrydar.
   6. Repoz Posted: August 12, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4206792)
you may have to explain to the newbies what you're talking about

Back in late 70's, I was picking someone up at Newark Airport and doing the luggage limbo at the crowded carousel when I noticed the Scooter standing (?) next to me. We yakked a bit about baseball and traveling, when his gigantor-bag came larrupin' down the ramp...he was bending over struggling to reach it (passed a diving retired Yankee SS!), so I asked him if he needed help pulling the luggage out. He fended me off with a left arm and shot back, "NO! I get my own luggage!"

He mumbled something people/tips as he was dragging his kill away from the scene.

Shiiit, I would have settled for a fiver.

   7. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 12, 2012 at 02:44 PM (#4206810)
Annoying man tries to steal Rizzuto's suitcase but Phil is too nice to press charges.
   8. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 12, 2012 at 05:32 PM (#4206894)
The Scooter was a guest at my brother's wedding. Very very nice man, acted exactly like he did on WPIX.


So he went up to the guests and said, "Holy cow it's a hit! The Money Store!"?
   9. Repoz Posted: August 12, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4206902)
The Scooter was a guest at my brother's wedding. Very very nice man, acted exactly like he did on WPIX.

He was already half way over the George Washington Bridge when it was time to hand the envelope in?
   10. dejarouehg Posted: August 12, 2012 at 09:48 PM (#4206988)
Fascinated by the stories about how Scooter couldn't stand Casey.

Inmpressed that "cannolis" earned its own spot on the tag line.
   11. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 13, 2012 at 01:00 AM (#4207044)
I'll always remember the pathos of him talking about not being given the day off by Yankees management to attend The Mick's funeral. He was too much a company man to go without permission. "I shoulda just went..." It was about the saddest thing I've ever heard.
   12. What's the realistic upside, RMc? Posted: August 13, 2012 at 07:35 AM (#4207076)
"The Scooter"? I thought he was just "Scooter".
   13. Lassus Posted: August 13, 2012 at 08:16 AM (#4207087)
I just can't count a (recently) older man not wanting to admit he needs helps carrying his bag to be particularly horrible.
   14. just plain joe Posted: August 13, 2012 at 08:38 AM (#4207094)
Fascinated by the stories about how Scooter couldn't stand Casey.


Did not RTFA but have no doubt this is true; Stengel is the manager who told Rizzuto that his playing career as a Yankee was over and he could either retire or try to catch on somewhere else. Stengel was pretty ruthless about getting rid of people, he didn't care what you had done in the past, he was concerned about how you would help him win going forward. Once Rizzuto started to slip (52 OPS+ in 1954) his days as a Yankee were numbered, as long as Casey Stengel remained the manager.
   15. tfbg9 Posted: August 13, 2012 at 08:43 AM (#4207096)
13-There might've been those bag hustler guys at EWR back then as well.

That and Repoz must've smelled like a bar's wipe-down rag in the late '70's.
   16. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: August 13, 2012 at 07:31 PM (#4207592)
"The Scooter"? I thought he was just "Scooter".
Both. Typical usage might be:

"And I'm joined in the booth by The Scooter, Phil Rizzuto. Scooter, what do you think of this Puckett kid the Twins are playing in center?"

"Well White, I'll tell ya, he's an exciting ballplayer! But before we get into that, I just have to say, the Bridge today was just horrible! I thought I would never make it in on time! I think I'm gonna have to leave in about the fourth today just to make sure I get home in time for some cannolis!"
   17. Downtown Bookie Posted: August 13, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4207607)
Did not RTFA but have no doubt this is true; Stengel is the manager who told Rizzuto that his playing career as a Yankee was over and he could either retire or try to catch on somewhere else.


Actually, it goes back further than that. Rizzuto, a Brooklyn native, tried out for the Dodgers in the mid-1930s. Quoting from here:

As Rizzuto told it, then Dodgers manager Casey Stengel "took one look and me and ... he said, 'Listen, kid, you better go and get yourself a shoeshine box. That is the only way you'll make a living.'"


DB

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