Monday, July 26, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Phil Rizzuto


The player: Holy cow, it's the Scooter! Phil Rizzuto was the heart and soul of the great Yankee teams of the 1940s and 1950s. Though he didn't put up huge power numbers or regularly hit over .300, Rizzuto, the 1950 MVP, was a clutch hitter and fantastic fielder, owner of most AL shortstop fielding records when he retired. The master of the sacrifice bunt, he fueled numerous rallies in an era when runs were hard to come by. (For decades after his retirement he taught Yankee hitters the art of bunting.) He is also the owner of numerous World Series records, most notably hitting .455 in three Game Sevens. He lost his age 25-27 seasons, the heart of a player's career, to serving in the South Pacific in World War II; otherwise his career numbers probably would have looked much better and he wouldn't have had to wait so long to make the Hall of Fame.

The man: Perhaps no broadcaster was more beloved by fans than Rizzuto; certainly, he was my favorite growing up. Even a bad game was fun with Rizzuto's antics. He had various catchphrases - "Holy Cow!", "Huckleberry," "Unbelievable". He told stories, whether about baseball, old teammates, his family, cannolis, or just what he was doing that day, that made him fun to listen to. Most announcers are pretty dry and boring, and it sounds forced when they try to sound relatable. Rizzuto was everyone's Italian grandfather, even if you weren't Italian. Rizzuto also owned a bowling alley with Yogi Berra, did commercials (The Money Store), and raised millions of dollars in various charitable endeavors, most notably for St. Joseph's School for the Blind. 

My collection: I have Rizzuto's 1954 Bowman card. I'd certainly be interested in trading for any other Rizzuto cards. His last card as an active player was 1956 Topps #113.

1 comment:

  1. It's too bad that he wasn't still around to teach this generation how to bunt!