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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Farewell to Moose

We were privileged to grow up as a Yankee fan during the heyday of that team. Well, one of the heydays, which included the legendary season of 1961, when Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were chasing Babe Ruth's home run record together, in the same murderous lineup.

Coming up behind them in said lineup was a guy who was also a formidable hitter, but he didn't get nearly as much attention from the fans or the media. He was Bill "Moose" Skowron, who played first base and wore uniform no. 14. If you pitched around Mantle, you had to deal with Skowron, which was no picnic. He was a five-time All-Star with a lifetime batting average north of .280 (with five years over .300). He had some game-winning World Series hits, and he combined consistency with power around home plate. He could out-think pitchers, and hit bad pitches out of the park, which he often did.

We'll never forget the sound of Mel Allen coming out of our tinny TVs and radios as he'd recite another double play by the Yankee infield: "Kubek... to Richardson... to Skowron." No doubt Skowron also served up a "Ballantine blast" or two for Allen's telling.

Moose was traded after the 1962 season, and he knocked around on several teams. As a Dodger, he faced the Yankees in the World Series, and he crucified his old teammates, hitting .385 with a homer as L.A. swept the Series. He said he didn't relish beating his former team, and we believed him. But we admired him for doing it.

The son of a Polish garbage man in Chicago, Moose was the kind of guy the fathers of our neighborhood knew well. In his later years, he always showed up for old-timers events and was a p.r. figure for the White Sox, for whom he had also played.

Skowron died yesterday at the age of 81. He'll be missed.

As for Kubek and Richardson, they're still on the planet.

Comments (4)

I remember attending White Sox games in old Comiskey Park and hearing the howls of "Moooooooose" reverberate when he walked up to the plate. Though the era is past, the memories will never die.

Tied the then World Series record for hits in 1960. Had a heckuva slugging percentage in that Series, too -- .625!


He is on the top ten list for homers in a World Series, and probably was the all time best hitter in World Series history on a percentage basis. Seems like he should have been a Hall of Famer with clutch hitting like that.

Growing up in Boise, it seemed a million miles from any major league teams. Probably because the Yankees were on TV/radio a lot, I grew up in the early sixties a great Yankees fan, especially appreciative of Moose Skowron, and Clete Boyer, as I recall, at third.

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