Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Holy Cow! I Think He's Gonna Make It!, Dept.

Phil Rizzuto, Yankees' Hall of Fame shortstop and longtime broadcaster, dies at 89 - MLB - Yahoo! Sports

"The Scooter", Phil Rizzuto, was inducted into Celestial Cooperstown yesterday.

Now, your sobsister is not much of a baseball fan (or football fan or basketball or hockey or curling or...) but the sound of The Scooter's commentary during Yankee games was the sound of my childhood. My father was a die-hard fan from the glory days of Mantle and Maris through every dip and peak in their fortunes right up until the day he died. So, summer was scored by televised nasal yelps that echoed my father's (and presumably every other Yankee fan's) exclamations from the couch to the television. Rizzuto had been a good, even great, player, and he was at least as good a representative for the men in their easy chairs, beer in one fist, wispy Kent in the other.

Rizzuto's aversion to profanity was legend. And this is my one Phil Rizzuto anecdote:

In Rizzuto's day, the broadcast booth at Yankee Stadium was not what one might call "sound-proof". Crowd noise leaked in constantly. Well, one day, a fan decided to start heckling Rizzuto. And by "heckle", I mean, bon mots like "PHIL, you SUCK!" and "Hey, PHIL, fuck YOU!" and the like. This went on for a little while, all clearly audible to Rizzuto and his broadcast partner, as well to the audience at home. Rizzuto tried at first to ignore it, then, when it defeated this attempt, to joke it away. Finally, when Rizzuto's boiling point had been presumably reached, he raised his voice and said, "Aw, ya...ya huckleberry!"

Ave atque vale, Phil Rizzuto.

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