Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Scooter Story

None of the obituaries I read today had the following tale of Phil Rizzuto. I recount it here because I think it's a good yarn, and to show one of the best things about sports-every so often, one of its legends is absolutely true. Rizzuto was a delightful man who free-associated his way through reality with blissful unconcern for the results. Small wonder he was so loved. I don't see any of the "Baseball Tonight" gang getting their obits on page 1 of the Times.

Anyway, here goes. It was September of 1990, a Saturday afternoon with the Sox supposed to play the Yankees at the Stadium. Supposed to, that is, whenever it stopped raining. September rain delays are loathed by all. You just KNOW you're stuck in that ballpark forever. They'll play at 3 a.m. if that's when the rain stops.

WPIX had switched to whatever comedy reruns they aired during delays, and Rizzuto wanfered into the press box to barber. He noted a message on the scoreboard telling fans to vote for one of major league baseball's endless string of "all-time" teams.

"I've always hated those things," Rizzuto said.

Rizzuto hated nothing. Naturally, he was asked for an explanation.

"One time a few years back, there was a rain delay like this one," Rizzuto said. "And White and I were running out of things to say on the radio. So he asked me to pick my all-time Yankee team. Well, you know, it was off the top of my head, and there have so many great Yankees, it's hard to remember them all in order. So I wound up forgetting Babe Ruth."

After the laughter, Rizzuto said in complete wonderful, "You know, for some reason, that made a lot of listeners upset."

Blessings, Scooter. Hope there's no traffic on the bridge tonight where you are.


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