Phil Rizzuto Dies @ 89
Phil Rizzuto, a former New York Yankees shortstop and Hall of Fame member who played on seven World Series champions before becoming the team's broadcast voice, has died at the age of 89, the Yankees said on Tuesday.
"I guess heaven must have needed a shortstop," Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner said.
"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," Steinbrenner said in a statement.
Rizzuto played his entire 13-year career with the Yankees and started at shortstop in nine World Series, with the Bronx Bombers, as they were called, taking the championship seven times.
After his playing career, he began a long stint as a broadcaster for the Yanks and became known for his signature exclamation "Holy Cow."
He had a career .273 batting average and was regarded as one of baseball's top defensive shortstops with a fielding percentage of .968.
"Phil was a gem, one of the greatest people I ever knew -- a dear friend and great teammate," former Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, 82, said in a statement.
"He was a heck of a player, too. When I first came up to the Yankees, he was like a big, actually small, brother to me. He's meant an awful lot to baseball and the Yankees and has left us with a lot of wonderful memories."
Rizzuto, nicknamed the "Scooter," began his Major League career in 1941, playing in his first World Series against the crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers.
He was named American League Most Valuable Player in 1950 when he hit .324 and scored 125 runs.
In 1994 Rizzuto was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, 34 years after he first became eligible for the honor.
"Thank God for baseball," he said at the time. "The era I played in was the greatest baseball ever played, but boy, I would like to play just one year now at the money they are making now."