Results tagged ‘ Bill “Moose” Skowron ’

Bill “Moose” Skowron, 81

Bill “Moose” Skowron, an integral part of the Yankees’ dynasty of the 1950s and ‘60s, died Friday of congestive heart failure and lung cancer at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill. He was 81.

Skowron, a power-hitting first baseman, played in eight World Series and was on eight All-Star squads in a 14-season career, nine with the Yankees on teams that won seven pennants and four World Series. He won an eighth pennant and fifth World Series with the Dodgers in 1963 at the expense of the Yankees.

Skowron is survived by his wife, Lorraine (known as Cookie), daughter Lynnette, sons Greg and Steve, granddaughter Addyson and grandsons Jordan, Grant and Blake. A moment of silence was observed at Yankee Stadium before Friday night’s Yankees-Tigers game.

Skowron was one of those right-handed sluggers whose power was compromised by the famous Death Valley of left-center field at the original Yankee Stadium that peaked at 467 feet. Only 60 of his 211 career home runs were hit at the Stadium, and many of those were to right field.

“Moose was my roommate for a while, and we were friends for so long,” said former pitcher Bob Turley, the Cy Young Award winner in 1958. “He was a good guy, and people loved him. Moose could really hit the baseball – especially home runs to right field – and he was a good first baseman. I was glad Moose was on my team because he always wanted to win.”

“Moose will always be remembered as being one of the key members of the Yankees’ dynasties in the ‘50s and early ‘60s,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “He was a winner in every sense of the word, and someone the Yankees family cared deeply for. Baseball lost one of its finest ambassadors, and on behalf of the entire organization, I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Cookie, and his entire family.”

Although he also played for the Dodgers, Senators, White Sox and Angels, Skowron considered himself a lifelong Yankee and was a regular returnee on Old Timers’ Days. The Chicago native worked in the White Sox’ community relations department the past 14 seasons and was at U.S. Cellular Field whenever the Yankees were in town.

“I got to know Moose really well,” Derek Jeter said. “Moose was one of the guys you always looked forward to seeing. Whether it was here, Old Timers Day, in Chicago, he used to always come out when we played in Chicago. I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the years. He always had positive things to say. He would always come over and comment on how you are playing or how things will turn around. He was just always positive.”

“I am saddened by the loss of Moose Skowron, a great baseball man who was an integral part of the wonderful Yankee teams of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “As a Milwaukee Braves fan, I will always remember his two-out, three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 1958 World Series. Moose, a Chicago native who was an All-Star for the White Sox in 1965, continued to contribute to our game as a member of the front office of his hometown team since 1999. He was a wonderful storyteller and an important link to a great era in baseball history. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Moose’s wife Cookie, their children, their grandchildren and his many fans.”

“We all have lost a dear, dear friend today,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said. “While Moose may have become a star in New York with the Yankees, he was a Chicagoan through and through. I certainly will miss his priceless stories about Casey Stengel, Roger Maris, Hank Bauer and of course, his good friend, Mickey Mantle. My guess is that right now Mickey, Roger, Hank and Moose are enjoying a good laugh together.”

William Joseph Skowron was the son of a Chicago sanitation worker. Although a former football player who won a scholarship to Purdue, Skowron’s nickname was not based on his powerful, 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame. While in grade school, his grandfather gave him a very short haircut, and his classmates thought it made him resemble the Italian dictator, Benito Mussilini, or “Moose” for short.

Skowron also played baseball at Purdue where his coach was Hank Stram, who later went on to fame as the head coach of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs. Moose chucked football for baseball in 1951 when the Yankees offered him a $25,000 contract. He could hit but was not as adept with a glove. A poor outfielder, Skowron was converted to first base, a position he shared in a platoon with left-handed Joe Collins when he reached the majors in 1954.

The home run Commissioner Selig mentioned was one of three Skowron hit in World Series Games 7. The others were in 1956, a grand slam, against the Dodgers, and in 1960 against the Pirates. A .282 career hitter with 888 runs batted in, Moose hit .293 with 4 doubles, 1 triple, 8 home runs and 29 RBI in 39 games and 133 at-bats in World Series play. In All-Star play, he had 6-for-14 (.429) with a double.

He was one of six Yankees players who hit more than 20 home runs for the 1961 team that had a then-record 240, topped by Maris’ 61 and Mantle’s 54. Moose, the third “M,” had 28. Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Johnny Blanchard also topped the 20-homer plateau. But Moose’s best overall season was probably the previous year, 1960, when he hit .309 with 26 home runs and career-high totals in doubles (34) and RBI (91).

“There weren’t many better guys than Moose,” Yogi said. “He was a dear friend and a great team man. A darn good ballplayer, too. ‘I’m going to miss him.”

To clear space at first base for Joe Pepitone, the Yankees traded Skowron to the Dodgers after the 1962 season for pitcher Stan Williams. Moose came back to haunt the Yankees as he hit .385 with a homer and three RBI in the Dodgers’ sweep of the Yanks in the 1963 World Series.

“Moose was a Yankee all the way,” said former pitcher Ralph Terry, the 1962 World Series Most Valuable Player. “He was a true professional who always worked hard and took the game as serious business. I am proud to have been able to call him a good friend. I remember during spring training when I was 18, he took me for my first pizza.”

Terry won Game 7 of the ’62 World Series, 1-0, over the Giants. No, Moose did not hit a home run in that game, but he did score the only run. He was in the middle of the action a lot in those days.