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Holy Cow, Phil Rizzuto Dies

NY- The Yankees lost a legend today, as Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto died at the age of 89.

Rizzuto, known as “The Scooter,” was a five-time All-Star shortstop who helped the Yankees win seven World Series championships. He had been in declining health for several years, living at a nursing home in West Orange, N.J.

“I guess heaven must have needed a shortstop,” George Steinbrenner said in a statement released by his publicist, Howard Rubenstein. “Phil Rizzuto’s contributions to the Yankees and the sport of baseball were immense for a period of over 50 years. He was one of the greatest Yankees of all time and a dear, close friend of mine whose loss is enormous to me and to the entire Yankee family.

“He epitomized the Yankee spirit – gritty and hard charging – and he wore the pinstripes proudly. While Scooter may have been smaller in size than some, he was among the tallest in his stature as a Yankee.

“He was a favorite of fans both as a player and later as a broadcaster” the statement continued. “His voice and ‘Holy Cow’ will be part of baseball for as long as we play the game. No one deserved his place in the Hall of Fame more than Number 10. Our condolences to his wife, Cora, and the rest of his family.”

Rizzuto is survived by his wife, the former Cora Anne Esselborn, whom he married in 1943; daughters Cindy Rizzuto, Patricia Rizzuto and Penny Rizzuto Yetto; son Phil Rizzuto Jr.; and two granddaughters.

Rizzuto hit .273 with 38 home runs, 563 RBI over 13 seasons (1941-56) with the Yankees, and while his numbers never approached those of teammates such as Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, he managed to capture the 1950 American League MVP award, one year after he finished second to Ted Williams.

Rizzuto batted .324 with a .439 slugging percentage in his MVP season, finishing second in the league with 200 hits.

He also went 58 games without an error.

After batting .307 as a rookie in 1941, Rizzuto posted good numbers in his second season, driving in what would be a career-high 68 runs. His career was interrupted by a stint in the Navy during World War II, as he resumed his playing career in 1946.

When his playing days were over in 1956, he turned to broadcasting, a second career in which he became one of the most popular figures in New York. His “Holy Cow” remains one of the most memorable exclamations in baseball broadcasting history.

After being passed over for 15 years by the writers and 11 times by the veterans committee, Rizzuto was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1994 by the committee after Ted Williams made a big push for his former rival.

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