Moose Skowron - 5 Time Champion
Moose Skowron - 5 Time Champion
Former Yankee great Bill "Moose" Skowron with his trademark "crew cut," looked more like a military Ranger type elite killer than a ball player for the New York Yankees. Yet he became one of only two players in the history of the game to hit three home runs in Game 7s of World Series. The Moose as he was affectionately called was a five-time World Series champion. He died yesterday of congestive heart failure at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Skowron was 81. The Moose helped the Yankees win four titles in the 1950s and 1960s. Yogi Berra was one of the first former teammates to praise Skowron saying, "There weren't many better guys than Moose." Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig called him "an integral part of the wonderful Yankee teams of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and, he was a wonderful storyteller and an important link to a great era in baseball history." After baseball playing days the Moose went back to his home town of Chicago and went to work for the Chicago White Sox as a community relations man. 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."
Skowron played for the Yankees from 1954-1962. Then won a fifth title with LA after being dealt to the Dodgers for Stan Williams. In 14 major league season he had a .282 batting average, 211 home runs and 888 runs-batted-in. The Polish kid from the streets of Chicago was an 8 time ML All-Star. Skowron came up to the Yankees as an outfielder. Then he was moved to first base. The Moose was not a naturally graceful man and was once told by his manager he needed to take "dance" lessons to improve his footwork at first base. The manager was Casey Stengel who told Skowron, get on the phone to Arthur Murray. Skowron acquired his nickname, Moose, from childhood friends. His grandfather gave him haircuts, a resemblance to the Italian Dictator of the 1930s, Benito Mussolini, so his pals called him "Mussolini." By high school age it was shortened to "Moose."
Bill Skowron was beloved by Yankee fans. He seemed always to come thru in the clutch during World Series time. Like in 1956 when he hit a seventh-inning grand slam off Roger Craig in a 9-0 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers, and a three-run homer against Lew Burdette in the eight-inning of a 6-2 win over Milwaukee in 1958 sealing a victory, and another World Series title for the Yankees.
Hearing of his death, New York Yankee Managing General partner Hal Steinbrenner said,"Moose will always be remembered as being one of the key members of the Yankee dynasties in the 50's and early 60's. He was a winner in every sense of the word, and someone the Yankee family cared deeply for."
Being interviewed in 2006 by a Chicago Times reporter Skowron admitted that as an outfielder he "couldn't catch a fly ball," and was grateful to Stengel for moving him to first base. When the reporter asked if he took Casey's advice and called "Dance Class" master Arthur Murray for dance lesson's the Moose took the 5th.
William "Moose" Skowron, great teammate, great friend, great story-teller, great in the clutch. When asked how he met his second wife he replied, "She told me over the phone, meet me at the bowling alley and if you like what you see we'll go out - well, I did like what I saw and I guess she liked what she saw because we got married two years later...I found out later she thought I was "Moose Yasko," the hockey guy."
Moose Skowron - "5 time champion" also had a great sense of humor. He'll be missed.