Episode 23: I’m a Special Friend of Phil Rizzuto
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We're back! Yes, this will be the final season of Golden Girls Sports but there are nine more episodes to go, packed to the gills with references, jokes, trivia and fun.
And to start that last ride, we focus on "The Scooter," Phil Rizzuto, a guy who was always fun no matter what he was doing.
I grew up on Long Island during the 80's, and there was a universal truth that everyone understood: The Mets were on Channel 9 and the Yankees were on Channel 11. That was it. You could watch either one, but that was where they lived.
I was a Yankees fan, but watched more than my share of Mets games and always root for them. Even during the 2000 World Series between the two (aka "The Subway Series"), I was kinda hoping the Mets would put up a fight against the dynastic Yankees, just to see what would happen. Alas, it was over in five quick games.
I think half the reason I liked watching the Yankees was because of Phil Rizzuto, who could say literally anything at any point of a game. That story I tell about him giving Rick Cerrone the business is 100% true and my friends will back me up. I found, and still find, Rizzuto uproariously funny, but then again, I wasn't one of his booth partners or producers.
With Rizzuto, everything was fair game, whether it made sense or not. The game itself was secondary. But he was never obnoxious or offensive. He was just The Scooter. That's a feeling you don't get anymore watching a game.
A lot has changed since his passing, though. Mets games are now on Channel 11 and the Yankees occasionally on Channel 9, when games aren't on their regional pay cable networks. And if Rizzuto was still on air today, there's no doubt that he'd be shredded mercilessly on social media every time he was on, the same way my hockey friends and I shred NBC Sports' obnoxious, irritating and obsequious Pierre McGuire every time he pops off about some junior hockey exploits that only he cares about. In a way, I'm glad Rizzuto can stay in that pre-internet age, keeping my memory of him pure.
I also had no idea the Yankees logo was designed by Tiffany for a police medal. Considering the franchise's eternal alias as The Evil Empire, it's both totally ironic and totally fitting.
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Excerpt from, White, Bill Uppity: My Untold Story About The Games People Play
By Bill White, Grand Central Publishing, 2011