Phil Rizzuto, the Hall of Fame shortstop during the Yankees’ dynasty years and beloved by a generation of fans who delighted in hearing him exclaim “Holy cow!” as a broadcaster, died Tuesday in West Orange, N.J. He was 89.
Rizzuto, known as “The Scooter,” was the oldest living Hall of Famer. He played for the Yankees throughout the 1940s and ’50s, won seven World Series titles, was an AL MVP and played in five All-Star games.
Rizzuto later announced Yankees games for four decades and his No. 10 was retired by baseball’s most storied team.
Rizzuto began a second career as a broadcaster, one for which he became at least equally well known. His voice dripped with his native Brooklyn.
In his decades on the radio and TV, Rizzuto’s favorite phrase was “Holy cow!” He trotted it out when calling Roger Maris’ record-breaking 61st home run in 1961 and the saying became so much a part of him, the team presented him with a cow wearing a halo when they held a day in his honor in 1985. The cow knocked Rizzuto over and, of course, he shouted, “Holy cow!”
Yankee fans also loved his unusual commentary, often punctuated with the phrase, “What a huckleberry!”
In an age of broadcasters who spout statistics and repeat the obvious, Rizzuto loved to talk about things like his fear of lightning, the style of an umpire’s shoes or even the prospect of outfielder Dave Winfield as a candidate for president.
Rizzuto is survived by his wife, Cora, whom he married in 1943; daughters Cindy Rizzuto, Patricia Rizzuto and Penny Rizzuto Yetto; son Phil Rizzuto Jr.; and two granddaughters.