Saturday, April 28, 2012
Moose Skowron was one of my favorite Yankees when I spent a week with my heroes in November, 1985. Mickey would use him as a punching bag for jokes and Moose, who could tear a man in two with his bare hands, would laugh until he cried, fully willing to make Mickey happy. He had this squeaky voice and hands with fingers which held the bat like a vise. He hit some of the hardest balls in camp that weekend and he was 54 years old, the same age as Mickey. Moose was a man’s man and we were paying thousands to have the privilege of playing with our bubble gum cards that week at Yankee camp in Fort Lauderdale, but it made no difference to Moose. He would sit down next to you at breakfast and ask about your family as if were your long lost uncle. Talk about finding out what you wanted to do in life and make that your purpose. Moose’s purpose was to be a Yankee and he did it with class and style and I will miss his passion for life. Once I saw him crying in the clubhouse. He was sitting at my locker and weeping openly. I reached out to the man I had only known for days. “Moose, what’s wrong?” Moose looked up at me and through his tears, that squeaky voice said: “It’s Roger, Steve. He’s not doing too good.” Of course, he was talking about his teammate. The legendary 61 in 61 man, Roger Maris who once hit 4 home runs in two games as a Yankee and I won’t forget it, because this 11 year old was there. I placed a comforting hand on the rock hard shoulder of my new friend and he reached for my hand and continued to cry for what would be a few minutes. He loved his Yankee family. One month later, Moose, Mickey, Whitey and other Yankees attended Roger’s funeral in Fargo, North Dakota. These Yankees I came to know that week were above all, family and for at least one week, they let you join that family. For me, the impressions I formed as an athlete, as a writer, as an athlete and as a man, will remain with me forever. As my son, so eloquently put it and he added Moose’s number, for a distinctive touch of class. “Sorry to hear. RIP #14.” Scott is now 34 and a leader in national health care. In 1985, he went everywhere I did and was 8 years old. Scott, you are so right. Goodbye, friend. I only knew you for a week. You touched me.
Posted by Steve Tarde at 3:06 AM