Yankee legend Rizzuto passes away

Was there any doubt that inherited runner was scoring?
Weems to sign, Holle...not so much

Beloved Yankee great and former announcer Phil Rizzuto passed away today. The Scooter, the oldest living Hall of Famer, was 89.

Rizzuto was long a favorite in the Bronx. A 40-year veteran of the broadcast booth, he coined the catch phrase “Holy Cow!” during his colorful commentaries on the game. During broadcasts, he would describe the action in a ramblingly poetic style often discussing marriages and birthdays more than the play on the field. He would leave games early to beat the traffic, saying to his wife over the air, “I’ll be home soon, Cora.” Generations of Yankee fans came to know and love the game through the Scooter’s broadcasts.

On the field, Rizzuto’s thirteen-year career – interrupted by three years in the war from 1943-1945 – earned him a spot in Cooperstown. A five-time All Star, he won the MVP in 1950 and finished second in the voting in 1949. He played in nine World Series, winning seven of them and remained a part of the Yankee family long after he retired in 1956.

Phil also gained some fame, amusingly enough, in 1977 when he appeared on the Meatloaf hit single “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” As Meatloaf and Ellen Foley recall the tango of their teenage days by the like, Rizzuto’s announcing serves as the not-so-veiled euphemism for the action in the car. This part of the song ends, fittingly enough, with a well-timed “Holy Cow!”

Recently, Rizzuto’s health had been failing. He was noticeably absent from Old Timers’ Day, sending a letter for Michael Kay to read in his place. The flags will be at half staff in the Bronx today as the Yanks are sure to honor Number 10 before tonight’s game. This one’s for you, Scooter.

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Was there any doubt that inherited runner was scoring?
Weems to sign, Holle...not so much
  • Marc

    I watched yankee games when i was a little guy because i loved listening to rizzuto. what a sad day.

  • mg

    Holy cow. I grew up on the Scooters’s broadcasts. So sad to see him leave us. Rest in peace, Scooter.

  • Marsha

    I have so many fond memories of listening to Yankee broadcasts with Phil, Bill White, and Frank Messer. When Fran Healy joined Phil in the broadcast booth, the game was secondary. Those two had such a good time and were so funny I always said that they should just take their act on the road, playing comedy clubs instead of supposedly announcing baseball games. And mention must be made that I was not the only one to find Phil amusing. His words were published in a book of poetry called O Holy Cow! According to Amazon, it “captures the verse-inherent of Rizzuto’s banter, his humor, and, indeed, his wisdom.” So I will miss the Scooter. He was a true Yankee.

  • mg

    The book of Poetry is wonderful Marsha. It lived in my bathroom for years and is pretty dog eared at this point.

  • Victoria Jeter

    I definitely co-opted our copy of that book of poetry and kept it in my room and read it a lot as a child…

  • C-Note

    I echo so many of the same feelings, grew up listening to scooter– sad day for the yankee family

  • Freddy

    RIP Scooter. I too grew up listening to you. You will be missed.

  • DKA

    “Oh my god, that ball is gone…holy cow….it’s caught….by the shortstop. Can you believe that, White?! The wind musta held it up!”

    RIP Scooter.

  • Count Zero

    I am really broken up on this one — his broadcasts were really special to me as a child and teenager in the 60s and 70s. I hope they have time to put something really nice together for the game tonight. And I’m glad we sent him off with a very sweet W last night.

  • Bob R.

    Some people seem to embody the spirit of the game-funny, conversational, joyful. I listened to Phil from his first day to his last and loved every minute of it. He embodied the spirit of baseball as well as anyone and better than most.

  • wayne’s world

    This is all so sad. We’ve gone from the days of Rizzuto, White, Healy etc. to Sterling and Waldman–a true migration from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    With the pending demise of Yankee Stadium, the links to that glorious past will be strained even further.

    And, yes, VBK was the first one to treat Phil as a serious poet. Those poems were not novelties for her.

  • brad k

    The Scooter will be missed. How fitting that last nights game ended with the current version of the Scooter driving in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth!

  • stepheneliot

    Sorry to hear of the Scooter’s passing. As a kid I saw him play (there was always a rivalry between him and the Dodgers’ Pee Wee Reese), but for my momey the Scooter was the best.

    By the time, I started college in the mid-fifties, Rizzuto started announcing, and I never heard the games when in school in the mid-west or pnthe West Coast where I later went although ” Holy Cow” was known to everyone who folowed baseball.

    There was a Yamkee announcer prior to Phil named Mel Allen, a lawyer by training and an Alabamian by birth. He was known as ” The voice of the Yankees”, and he made the games a pleasure to listen to. So bang the drum slowly for Rizzuto, who was a fixture in the firmament of the New York Yankees of the 1940’s and 50’s and think of him as making one of his pateneted another 6-4-3 double plays.