Filed under: New York, New York City, New York Yankees, Phil Rizzuto, sports
“Did he do it… yeah he did… going the opposite field; that Mattingly is amazing… Holy cow!”
That’s my recollection of hearing Phil Rizzuto call the home run hit by Don Mattingly that tied the consecutive home run record held by Pittsburgh’s Dale Long. Ironcially I’d just listened to the audio clip on Monday afternoon. I had no idea I’d be hearing of Rizzuto’s death while waiting for lunch today. He was 89.
Growing up in New York, especially before I discovered how much fun listening to games on the radio was, I watched every New York Yankees game broadcast on WPIX, which meant hearing the games as called by Phil Rizzuto and Bill White. I made the switch to listening to John Sterling after it was decided that Yankees games would be broadcast on cable long before The Bronx would be privileged to receive it. But it was still a treat to watch television whenever we knew the game was being broadcast locally.
Long before I knew that Harry Caray was known for saying “Holy Cow” to me it meant hearing “the Scooter” tell stories of past Yankees glory, of cannolis being eaten and of birthday and anniversary wishes being shared. He showed some of that style during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1994. He was a bridge to franchise’s past at a time when it was greatly desired and needed from its fan. The only Yankee that drew more applause at an old-timer’s game than Mattingly or DiMaggio was Rizzuto.
We knew he’d been sick for some time, though we as the fans of the team known as the Evil Empire hoped he could make it to see his beloved team play one more time in the Fall Classic. He was the same age that my grandmother would have been this year and she loved watching him call games. Most times we’d sit in front of the television and watch the game, my parents still wondering how their child could love baseball more than soccer.
Hopefully he’ll get the chance to watch the guys send the House that Ruth Built out in style from a box seat upstairs. I think those of us who enjoyed him would like that more than anything else. As for me, I see a cannoli in my future this evening, just right for someone who proved while playing that the content of a man should be measured by what they do and not by how tall they are. Steinbrenner must have been right; “heaven must have needed a shortstop,” and they went out and got the best one available. Maybe the big guy is a Yankees fan after all.
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