Former Deadspin editor Will Leitch has come up with an admirable way to pay tribute to the former players of his favorite franchise while avoiding a jinx on their chance at a division crown. The St. Louis Cardinals hold a 9.5 game lead over the Cubs in the NL Central. With 18 games remaining in the season, that puts their magic number at 11. Rather than stating his team's daily number, Leitch substitutes the name of a former Cards player who wore that day's magic number on his uniform. I am stealing this idea.
Five facts about Phil Rizzuto:
- Rizzuto played 13 seasons, all with the Yankees, and won seven world titles. He never signed with another team following the 1956 season when New York released him. He had offers from the Cardinals and Dodgers.
- Rizzuto first became eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961, but was not elected in until 33 years later. The veterans committee voted him into Cooperstown in 1994.
- During his broadcast days, Rizzuto would often mark his scorecards with "WW" which stood for "wasn't watching." He was the radio and television voice of the Yankees for 40 years, retiring in 1996. He called the first career home run on current Yankees short stop Derek Jeter that year.
- He owns a gold record for Meat Loaf's "Paradise By The Dashboard Light." Rizzuto lent his voice to the part of the song where a baseball announcer is heard calling play-by-play for a game. This is actually meant to represent Meat Loaf's attempts to lose his virginity.
- Rizzuto first tried to break into MLB with the Brookyn Dodgers in 1935 as an 18-year-old, but was told by then-manager Casey Stengal to "go get a shoeshine box," which led to this:
10: Phil Rizzuto
9: Roger Maris
8: Yogi Berra
7: Mickey Mantle
6: Steve Sax
5: Joe DiMaggio
4: Lou Gehrig
3: Babe Ruth
2: Mike Gallego
1: Bobby Murcer