Rizzuto's long career in the public eye began when he played for the Yankees. He more famous broadcasting the games as the voice of the Yankees after he retired from playing.
Growing up in New York in the 70s and 80s I got to know Rizutto as not only the voice of the Yankees, but also the voice of the Money Store.
As a kid, I never really knew what the Money Store was. Going someplace to buy money didn't make a lot of sense. There just seemed to be something shady about it. But that's where we heard Rizzuto, touting release from financial difficulties during commercial breaks in He-Man and Tom and Jerry.
In sophomore year religion class, I got to know Phil Rizzuto as the platinum selling recording artist speaking back up on Meatloaf's legendary Bat Out of Hell album.
Br. Ron Marcellan used popular music form the 60s and 70s to teach us important life lessons. He taught classes based on the Beatles (Elanor Rigby), The Byrds (To Every Season), Bob Dylan (Hurricane) and others.
For a class about the consequences of teen age sex, he brought out Bruce Springsteen (The River) and Meatloaf (Paradise by the Dashboard Light). That class was my introduction to Meatloaf. I went on to pick up his other albums and become a fan of his big, operatic music for life.
Paradise by the Dashboard Light is a song about two teen agers getting hot and heavy in the back of the car. As their passion ratchets up, Meatloaf stops singing, a pounding rythmic bass comes on, and Phil Rizzuto takes over with the play-by-play:
Ok, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here,
two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth,
there's the wind-up and there it is, a line shot up the middle,
look at him go. This boy can really fly!
He's rounding first and really turning it on now,
he's not letting up at all, he's gonna try for second;
the ball is bobbled out in center, and here comes the throw, and what a throw!
He's gonna slide in head first, here he comes, he's out!
No, wait, safe--safe at second base, this kid really makes things happen out there.
Batter steps up to the plate, here's the pitch--
he's going, and what a jump he's got, he's trying
for third, here's the throw, it's in the dirt--
safe at third! Holy cow, stolen base!
He's taking a pretty big lead out there,
almost daring him to try and pick him off.
The pitcher glance over, winds up, and it's bunted, bunted
down the third base line, the suicide squeeze in on!
Here he comes, squeeze play, it's gonna be close,
here's the throw, there's the play at the plate,
Holy Cow! I think he's gonna make it!
The song cuts back to the lyrics of the boy and girl negotiating over eternal love and it doesn't end well for either of them.
Bat Out of Hell is one of the great albums I use to kick off every road trip. The big music of the seven songs runs they full spectrum of emotions. In college I wore out two tapes of the album and today it one of my top played in iTunes.
So good luck to Phil Rizzuto -- athlete, announcer, hall of famer, pitchman, and rock star. I think he made it.