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!