Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rizzuto Dies at Age 89

Phil Rizzuto, one of the best shortstops in MLB history has passed away.

Rizzuto had pneumonia and died in his sleep at a nursing home in West Orange, N.J., daughter Patricia Rizzuto said Tuesday. He had been in declining health for several years.

Rizzuto played 11 years for the New York Yankees getting an MVP award in 1950 and 5 all-star appearances. Popular as a player and beloved as a broadcaster, the New York Yankees shortstop was during their dynasty years of the 1940s and 1950s. "I guess heaven must have needed a shortstop," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "He epitomized the Yankee spirit - gritty and hard charging - and he wore the pinstripes proudly."

After his playing career, Rizzuto immediately became a broadcaster. He was known for his catch phrase, "holy cow". Rizzuto also became known for saying "Unbelievable!" or "Did you see that?" to describe a great play, and would call somebody a "huckleberry" if he did something Rizzuto didn't like. Phil always did know who to keep it fun in the press boxes. Rizzuto would typically refer to his broadcast partners by their last names, calling them "White", "Murcer" and "Seaver" instead of "Bill", "Bobby" or "Tom."

Rizzuto broadcasted some great moments in baseball, which include Roger Maris' 61th home run. After a long wait, Rizzuto was voted into the hall of fame in 1994.

Just to show how good Rizzuto was, Ted Williams claimed that his Red Sox would have won most of the Yankees' 1940s and 1950s pennants if they had had Rizzuto at shortstop. Rizzuto was a great player on the field, and a character at the least off it.

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