Profiles of Valor
Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto was born in New York City in 1927 to Italian immigrant parents and went on to play his entire professional baseball career for the New York Yankees in addition to serving his country.
Renowned for his defense, Rizzuto started at shortstop for the Yankees teams that won seven World Series Championships during his thirteen- year tenure in the Bronx. At the time of his retirement, his career .968 fielding percentage ranked second all-time amongst American League shortstops as did his 1,217 career double plays.
At the plate, Rizzuto was a consummate small-ball player. He was regarded as one of the greatest bunters of all time. He posted a career batting average of .273 while hitting thirty-eight home runs and driving in 563 runs. His best season came in 1950 when he beat out Ted Williams in the American League MVP race as he led the league in sacrifice bunts. In addition to his regular season excellence, Rizzuto was known for his heroics during the World Series. For his accomplishments on the baseball diamond, the New York Yankees retired his number, 10, and honored him in Monument Park. In 1994, Phil Rizzuto was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Like many of his contemporaries, Rizzuto left Major League Baseball during World War II in order to serve his country. Phil Rizzuto served in the United States Navy from 1943-1945. In 1943, he was stationed at the Norfolk Training Station where he regularly played on their baseball team. He later found himself in charge of a 20mm gun crew on a ship in the Pacific. His service in this position came to a close after he contracted malaria in New Guinea and was subsequently sent to Australia to recover. After completing his service, Rizzuto returned to the Yankees in 1946.
Through his dedication and hard work, Phil Rizzuto established himself as one of the greatest shortstops of all time on the baseball diamond and an American hero in his service to his country.