Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another legend gone but for memory and history

Phil Rizzuto, former Yankees shortstop and broadcaster, has passed away. Although members of the Yankees family have died in the past year (Cory Lidle, Hank Bauer, Clete Boyer, and Bill Robinson), none had the impact (except maybe Lidle, who died suddenly and as an active player) that Rizzuto's death did. For any Yankee fan of any age, Rizzuto was a part of their life. For my grandparents, they grew up listening to him play ball. For my parents, uncles, et al, as well as myself, we grew up listening to him call Yankees games, which he did for 40 years. My mom was very upset today. Although celebrities do not get to know the fans as people, when someone is in your home a few hours a day, 160 or so days a year for a few decades, it's hard not to become attached to the person in some way. Rizzuto was a familiar face and a friendly voice for so many fans.

It was probably fitting that WPIX stopped having Yankees games right around the time when Rizzuto stepped out of the booth. He was colorful and entertaining, so much so that a book of poetry was made based on his words. I can't say he is what a commentator should be, but as a kid that didn't know any better, he was a delight.

Rizzuto's best season by far was his 1950 MVP season, where he compiled 200 hits to finish the year with a .324 BA, .418 OBP, a 122 OPS+, .297 EqA, and a 12.3 WARP3. He must have known he didn't have much time left, because last year, after being unable to decide which child of his should receive his MVP award, he auctioned it off and donated most of the proceeds to his favorite charity, St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Jersey City, NJ.

With thoughts of baseball and cannoli, I'll end this with Rizzuto's own words:
Faith. You gotta have faith.
You know, they say time heals all wounds,
And I don't quite agree with that a hundred percent.
It gets you to cope with wounds.
You carry them the rest of your life.

Godspeed, Phil.

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