May 3, 2012 – Old-Timers’ Day has been one of my favorite experiences since I began working for the Yankees. It has allowed me meet a vast number of former players, many of whom are the fabric by which Yankees greatness was built.
Bill “Moose” Skowron, who passed away on April 27 at the age of 81, was one of those men.
The former first baseman, who finished his career with a .282 average, was at his best when it mattered most. He hit a grand slam in Game 7 of the 1956 World Series, a three-run homer in Game 7 of the 1958 Fall Classic and a solo blast in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. The Yankees were victorious in the final game of the 1956 and 1958 seasons, and Skowron’s home run in the ultimate game of the 1960 campaign gave the Yankees the lead.
In total, Skowron hit eight home runs in 39 World Series games, establishing himself as one of the great postseason hitters of all-time.
What can’t be found in the record books is that Skowron was as down to earth as anyone in the game. Whether he was telling stories to members of the Yankees security detail, giving an hour of his time to a reporter for an interview or signing autographs and posing for photos with young fans, Skowron was always making the people around him feel important. As great as Skowron was on the field, especially in those big games, he was an even better person off the field, and I feel fortunate to have had the chance to spend time with him over the years.
My last conversation with Skowron took place in November, when I spoke to the former Yankee for a story that will be published in the June Issue of Yankees Magazine.
The story details the long series of exhibition games the Yankees played against Army’s baseball team at West Point. Skowron, who was as gracious on the phone in November as he was in all of our in-person meetings, discussed the game between the 1961 Yankees and the Black Knights of Army.
“It was a cold day, but I enjoyed the game,” Skowron said. “We respected them. Those guys were in the service, going to school and playing baseball. We were impressed by them, and we wanted to give them our best effort.”
I will remember my last conversation with Skowron for a long time, and I’m proud that his words will be part of my upcoming story.
But Old-Timers’ Day won’t be the same, because the Yankees family has lost one of its greatest people.
–Alfred Santasiere III