Longtime Yankees player, broadcaster gets childhood street corner named after him
The legacy of Phil Rizzuto, the Hall of Fame major league baseball player and broadcaster whose ball-playing roots began in Glendale, will forever live on at his childhood street corner which was recently co-named after him.
Nicknamed “Scooter” for his strides and speed on the base paths, the 5-foot-6 shortstop would play 13 seasons with the New York Yankees in the ‘40s and ‘50s, before becoming the voice of the team as a broadcaster for 40 years.
Family and friends joined together at the intersection of 64th Street and 78th Avenue in front of the house Rizzuto grew up in, reminiscing on the life and memories of the man whose famous “Holy Cow!” catchphrase would be shouted over the airwaves for decades.
“He was a wonderful dad,” his daughter, Penny Rizzuto-Yetto, said. “I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and the history people have. A lot of work went into this and I am incredibly grateful.”
The street co-naming was brought to fruition by the Newtown Historical Society, New York City Councilman Robert Holden and the Liberty Park Homeowners Association.
The idea was first brought to Holden’s attention last year. It was then up to Christina Wilkinson, president of the Newtown Historical Society, to collect the required petitions for the street co-naming to be officially recognized.
An old seat from the original Yankee Stadium was purchased by the Councilman in the ‘80s at a yard sale in Glendale, he said. Speaking next to the empty seat on display in front of a crowd of over 75 people, Holden envisioned the spirit of Rizzuto joining the joyous event in front of his childhood home.
“Phil was one of the few Yankees that I really loved,” Holden, a self-admitted Dodger fan, said. “He was an inspiration as an announcer. What I loved about him is he made it really personal and he made it very warm hearted. He was just a great guy and the family knows that.”
Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar sported a red Yankees hat in support of the local Queens boy who attended Richmond Hill High School growing up. She praised his heroism, citing the stint in Rizzuto’s career, from 1943 to 1945, when he served in the Navy during World War II.
“Phil Rizzuto was a dynamite in baseball, both as a player and as we all know, a broadcaster,” said Rajkumar. “But he’s more than that, he’s a model New Yorker and an outstanding citizen. This is a man who stopped his Hall of Fame baseball career to put his life on the line for our country in World War II.”
The block party featured a number of musical pieces performed by saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr., as well as “Scooter Pies” made by Rolo’s restaurant in Ridgewood, and Huckleberry soda and candy provided by the Newtown Historical Society. Yankee hats were also donated by the baseball team for the event.
Memories were shared by longtime friends of the family, including former Yankees public relations director Marty Appel, and Ray Negron, a special consultant to the Yankees.
“Those of us who fell in love with baseball in the 50’s, we live through those baseball cards,” Appel said. “I still picture in my head, his 1956 Topps card was just a magnificent, beautiful card.”
Negron added that in his nearly half-century with the baseball club, Rizzuto was one of the top three nicest guys he’s met through the sport.
“When Billy Martin got fired in 1978 — and he didn’t quit, he got fired — who sat in his room while Billy cried? Phil Rizzuto.”