The unassuming house at 78-01 64th Street in Glendale offers no hint that a Hall of Fame baseball star spent his formative years in it.
In 1917, Philip Francis Rizzuto, the 3rd of 7 siblings, was born in an apartment on Dill Place (61st Street) in Glendale. The home pictured was purchased in 1929 by his father, Phillip Rizzuto, Sr., a Myrtle Avenue trolley car motorman and later construction foreman who sought a larger space for his growing family.
Phil Jr. had been a student at PS 68 when he got his baseball start. He then attended Richmond Hill High School where he played on the school’s team at places like Victory Field and Dexter Park in Woodhaven. A scrappy little Dodger fan of 5’6”, he was rejected by both the Giants and Dodgers when he tried out, but the Yankees saw promise in him. He was dubbed “The Scooter” for his agility at running the bases and ended up winning 9 American League pennants and 7 World Series titles during his 13 seasons as shortstop with the Yankees, as well as the American League Most Valuable Player award in 1950. He was a 5-time All Star despite missing 3 seasons due to a stint in the US Navy during WWII.
After retirement in 1956, Phil moved to the Yankees’ broadcast booth where he became known more for cheerful banter about his friends and family than for his play-by-play. His signature phrase “Holy Cow!” is fondly remembered by several generations of fans today. Phil married and moved to NJ in 1943, but the house he and his 6 siblings grew up in stayed in the family until the death of his first-born sister Mary in 1993.
The Yankees retired Scooter’s number 10 in 1985. After years of disappointment, Phil was finally inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. In 1996, after a 40-year career, Rizzuto retired from broadcasting, but not before advocating for then-rookie shortstop Derek Jeter to be given more playing time. He also took Jeter under his wing, offering him encouragement and advice.
Rizzuto passed away in 2007, a month shy of his 90th birthday. A plaque at PS 68 commemorates his time there and Smokey Oval Park in Richmond Hill was renamed in his honor in 2008.