Yankees shortstop and longtime broadcasting legend Phil Rizzuto held a press conference yesterday at Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant in Manhattan to announce a forthcoming memorabilia auction. And now the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir is waiting for the end of time to hurry up and arrive.
He did not say much more into the microphone; he did not venture into the kind of stream-of-consciousness monologue that characterized his wacky Hall of Fame induction speech in 1994. He seemed shy, nearly 10 years from the spotlight. Maybe he needed a game, a plate of garlic shrimp and Bill White to energize him.
Rizzuto sat at a table and picked on a small plate of ziti. The news media watched him eat rather than fling questions at him. Then the pasta got cold, which must be a culinary tragedy in the life of the Scooter.
Rizzuto was at Mantle’s with his wife, Cora; two of his daughters, Patricia and Penny; and one of his granddaughters, Jennifer, to announce his plans to auction much of his memorabilia this summer. He is selling a trove through Geppi’s Memorabilia Road Show that features a rookie uniform, a LeRoy Neiman painting of him, his 1953 and 1996 World Series rings, a plaque presented by Don Larsen to his teammates after his perfect game in 1956, and a frayed and blackened Yankees cap from the late 1940’s, with a wad of nearly petrified Rizzuto-chewed gum the top.
Rizzuto said the collection of at least 1,000 pieces is “something I’m very proud of, yet I’m a little scared. I want to get rid of it once and for all. Well, you don’t get rid of it.”
He is keeping his 1950 American League most valuable player trophy (Cora was wearing her glittering 2000 World Series pendant), but he is parting with the platinum record he received for his play-by-play of a makeout session on Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”