August 13 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Baseball Hall of Famer and the “Voice of the Yankees,” Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto.
Philip Francis Rizzuto’s career with the Yankees spanned some 13 seasons between 1941 and 1956. He missed three seasons during 1943 through 1945; Phil Rizzuto served with the U.S. Navy during World War II. The “Scooter” had a .273 career batting average. Rizzuto is best known for his bunting ability; he led the league in sacrifice bunts from 1949 through 1952. The Scooter was awarded the distinction of being named the American League MVP for his efforts in 1950; he led the league in plate appearances that year (735 plate appearances).
We remember Phil Rizzuto broadcasting Yankee games. We have followed the Yankees faithfully since the early 60’s, and we’ve listened to many Yankee broadcasts over those years. Frankly speaking, the Yankee announcers of today are dull and boring. Listening to today’s Yankee announcers is like listening to Ma and Pa Kettle call a game of tiddlywinks — Without the humor, mind you.
Today’s sportscasters don’t have the same kind of broadcasting magic that Phil Rizzuto, Frank Messer, and Bill White had in the broadcast booth. They were real sportscasters! Rizzuto, Messer, and White creatively coupled – innovatively improvised – stats, analysis, commentary, and joyful, light hearted comical banter as a way to connect with the audience.
We fondly remember The Scooter’s “Rizzutoisms,” such as: “Holy Cow,” “Huckleberry,” his impromptu birthday wishes at inappropriate moments during a tight game, his fear of lightning (Rizzuto would leave the game early during stormy weather), and his many miscues and malapropisms.
Back then, with Phil Rizzuto at the “mic” in the broadcast booth, watching the Yankees on WPIX or listening to the games on radio was fun and enjoyable. Today’s broadcasters have taken all the fun and laughter out of the Yankee games.
John Di Genio and Albert J. Cupo