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.