A Note on The Scooter

Philrizzuto_2

I had two favorite records as a little kid. One was a collection of Sousa tunes played by the Army marching band. The other was a bright red 45 rpm instructional record on bunting narrated by Phil Rizzuto. I’m not sure I learned anything from that record, but I sure did love to play it. Like most kids my age from the city, I loved the Yankees, and that meant loving the very lovable Scooter. At summer camp, we’d argue with our Dodger-fan friends from LA about who was better: Scully or Rizzuto. Of course they thought the Scooter was something of a buffoon, and sometimes he was. But he was our buffoon, and we’d go to the mats for him in any debate. And though we now think of him primarily as the beloved and barmy uncle of the broadcast booth, he was not in fact without merits as an announcer. When the moment called for it—and if he happened to be watching—that nasally twang captured the sheer excitement of the game, in all its innocence. His call of Maris’s 61st is a classic. And of course he was a great story teller, a real huckelberry.

The great Yankee tradition, we have been schooled to think, is defined by a buttoned down, pinstriped, corporate, hard-noded attitude. Of course there are Yankees that exemplify these characterics: Gehrig, DiMaggio, Ford, Mattingly, Jeter. It’s easy to forget the team has always had it’s jovial characters, its men of the people: Ruth, Berra, Mantle, Wells. Rizzuto was of that later character. Nevermind the qualifications, has there ever been another player elected to the Hall simply because he was so damn beloved?

Holy Cow, we’re going to miss him.

3 comments… add one
  • I moved to NYC as Scooter’s tenure as an announcer was winding down. I was an adult, so I didn’t have the benefit of having grown up with him. The first game I ever heard him call, he went on for literally an inning and a half about some cannoli that someone had brought up to the booth, and I thought – What the hell?
    In time, though, I came to appreciate his peculiar charms as an announcer. He will be missed.
    (I do have to say, though, as an L.A. resident for more than a decade: Scully is better.)

    MJL in L.A. (SF) August 15, 2007, 12:56 pm
  • > I came to appreciate his peculiar charms as an announcer
    I think that’s the hardest thing for me today, listening to Yankees announcers (well, most announcers, but especially the current Yankees radio and TV guys). The rapport between Scooter, White and Messer was so effortless, so much fun, that everything since sounds forced and awkward.
    I had an AM/FM radio/cassette deck that I got for my 7th (8th?) birthday along with a Linda Rondstadt tape and The Beach Boys “Endless Summer”. I listened to the Rondstadt tape approximately once, the Beach Boys, approximately 10,000 times. But the best part about that radio was that every game night, it would be next to me as I was in bed, and I would listen to the AM broadcast until it was over, or I fell asleep, or until got caught listening to it after bed time. Usually, I would turn it down as low as possible with my ear next to the speaker so I could listen to the games without getting caught for staying up to late. Thank you Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, Frank Messer. You made the game for me.

    attackgerbil August 15, 2007, 3:20 pm
  • i have that red 45 record i need more info
    my dad gave it to me 35 years ago

    blanca August 20, 2007, 11:37 am

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