Phil Rizzuto’s Hall of Fame induction speech

Philip Francis Rizzuto was born September 25, 1917, and he spent his entire 13-year major league career (1941-1956) with the New York Yankees. During that time, the Yankees won an astonishing 10 American League pennants and seven World Championships.

From 1943 to 1945, Rizzuto spent some time away from MLB for a stint in the military, serving in the United States Navy during World War II. During those two years, he played on a Navy baseball team, alongside Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese.

In 1950, Rizzuto was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. He was known as a terrific defensive player, with 1,217 career double plays and a .968 career fielding average.

After his playing career, Rizzuto enjoyed a 40-year career as a radio and television sports announcer for the Yankees. He was particularly known for his trademark expression, “Holy cow!”

Phil Rizzuto was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. He died in his sleep on August 13, 2007.

Rizzuto’s induction speech is a hoot. Enjoy!

Quote of the day

When we played the Dodgers in St. Louis, they had to come through our dugout, and our bat rack was right there where they had to walk. My bats kept disappearing, and I couldn’t figure it out. Turns out, Pee Wee Reese was stealing my bats. I found that out later, after we got out of baseball. He and Rube Walker stole my bats.

~Stan Musial

musial

This day in baseball: Alston named manager of the Dodgers

On November 24, 1953, Dodger owner Walter O’Malley announced that Walter Alston would be the new manager of the Brooklyn team, replacing Chuck Dressen. The announcement came as a shock to reporters, as the leading candidate for the job had been the fan-favorite Pee Wee Reese. Alston would go on to win seven pennants and four World Series during his 23 years with the team.

Walter_Alston_1954 - Wikipedia
Wikipedia

This day in baseball: Misleading scouting report favors Brooklyn

In order to protect his own job on the Boston infield, Red Sox player-manager Joe Cronin filed a scouting report on Pee Wee Reese that understated the 21-year-old’s abilities.  As a result of this report, on July 18, 1939, the Red Sox traded Reese to the Brooklyn Dodgers for $35,000 and a player to be named later (Red Evans), as well as three minor league players.  Reese would go on to help Brooklyn win seven pennants during his 16 seasons with the team.

Image from a 1950s television commercial for Gillette Super-Speed Razors
Pee Wee Reese (Image from a 1950s television commercial for Gillette Super-Speed Razors)

This day in baseball: The first batting “helmets”

On March 7, 1941, during Spring Training, Brooklyn Dodgers Pee Wee Reese and Joe “Ducky” Medwick both slipped plastic inserts inside their caps during an exhibition game.  The previous year, in 1940, both men had missed playing time do to injury after being hit by pitches.  This is believed to be the first instance of players wearing protective headgear when going up to bat.  Major League Baseball would not make helmets mandatory until 1971.

Sports Illustrated