Growing up in New York in the ’50s and ’60s, I loved the Yankees – all of them – and especially the ones at the corners: the sharp-fielding Clete Boyer at 3rd and the power-hitting Moose Skowron at 1st.
Boyer died in 2007. Skowron died yesterday.
From the New York Times obit (shown in photo with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Roy Camapanella):
Bill Skowron, the slugging first baseman who played on seven pennant-winning teams with the Yankees in the 1950s and early ’60s, died on Friday in Arlington Heights, Ill. He was 81.
His death, at a hospital, resulted from congestive heart failure, although he had recently been treated for cancer, his son Greg said.
Known for a scowl and a muscular frame that presumably intimidated opposing pitchers, Skowron hit 211 home runs in 14 major league seasons and batted .300 five times as a Yankee.
Two things I learned from the obit.
1) How Skowron got his nickname:
“When I was about 8 years old living in Chicago, my grandfather gave all the haircuts to his grandchildren,” Skowron told John Tullius for the oral history “I’d Rather Be a Yankee.” “He shaved off all my hair. I was completely bald. When I got outside, all the older fellows around the neighborhood started calling me Mussolini. At that time, he was the dictator of Italy. So after that, in grammar school, high school and college, everybody called me Moose.”
2) What I thought at the time was revenge for Skowron actually turned out to be torture for him:
In 1963, after being traded by the Yankees to the Dodgers, he hit .385 with a home run in Los Angeles’s four-game World Series sweep of the Yankees . . .
“Twelve years I was with New York, three in the minors, nine in the majors [he said in “Bombers: An Oral History of the New York Yankees”]. I loved those guys and it killed me to beat them. My uniform might have said Los Angeles, but in my heart I was always a Yankee.”
In my heart too. Rest in peace, Moose.