To celebrate the advent this year’s MLB playoffs, which I am looking forward to with rapt anticipation (no, really), I’d like to do a few posts featuring YouTube finds representing each team that’s made their way to October. First up, the Yankees.
When I was a kid, Phil Rizzuto was still the voice of the Bronx Bombers, and it was awesome. It’s too bad there’s a whole generation of fans who only know Michael Kay and John Sterling, because Scooter was a delight. Sure, he was goofy as hell and would occasionally seem to get tired of actually calling the game. (I remember once Jackie Mason joined him in the booth–seriously–and they spent two innings talking about their favorite delis.) And his lengthy digressions and inattentiveness drove poor Bill White, his broadcasting partner, up the wall.
For all of that, Rizzuto’s goofiness was natural and endearing, not the studied, monstrous eccentricity of Sterling. Plus, he wasn’t one-tenth the homer that Sterling is. I can’t imagine him doing something so undignified as Sterling’s unbearable THUUUUUUUUUUUH YANKEES WIN!
Of course, I can’t show you any footage of Scooter actually calling a game, because that would bring MLBAM’s fiery wrath upon me. So I’ll have to settle for another touchstone of my youth: Phil Rizzuto’s commercials for The Money Store. As a child watching these commercials, I was quite confused; why would you buy money? If you needed money, you wouldn’t be able to buy money, would you? If Phil was just as confused, he didn’t show it (hardly).
Sadly, Phil was replaced in these commercials by pretty boy Jim Palmer, right around the same time he was unceremoniously removed from the Yankees broadcast booth. The world is a cruel place.
If you were watching Phil circa 1987, you might have seen a promo like this for Yankees baseball on WPIX, the local channel that carried their games for approximately 937 years. You also would have seen a terrifying teaser for the evening news like the one that opens this video, which is fairly typical of New York news during this era (with anchor Donna Hanover, aka The Future Mrs. Giuliani).
Or you might have seen these promo ads, also from 1987. I have no memory of these at all, but they’re pretty slick for the era. Also, Rickey Henderson walks down a Yankee Stadium tunnel with some kind of wild jungle cat because of course he did.
If we take the Wayback Machine even further, we find Phil Rizzuto the mystery guest on an episode of What’s My Line circa 1970. Soupy Sales seems to be a big fan. Amazingly, Phil points to the recent worst-to-first story of the Mets as a reason why the Yankees could do well in the coming season. (Spoiler: They actually won 93 games that year, but finished well back of the steamrolling Baltimore Orioles.)