Friday, April 27, 2012
I lost a friend today. But that is a selfish way to think about it, really, because a lot of people here with the White Sox – and a lot of fans in New York and Chicago – lost a friend today. And baseball, well, baseball certainly lost a character. There was only one Bill “Moose” Skowron.
For the past year or so, Moose had waged a tough, tough battle with cancer. But Moose was a tough, tough guy, and recently, medical tests seemed to indicate that he was winning. But the battle had been really hard on Moose and his body, and last night, he succumbed to congestive heart failure at the age of 81. There will be one less Yankee great standing on the first base line at next summer’s Old Timer’s Game (Moose used to joke about how he had moved closer to first base over the years. I think he was second or third last year).
Visitation for Moose will be Monday, April 30 from 2 to 9 p.m. at Colonial-Wojciechowski Funeral Home at 8025 W. Golf Road, Niles. His funeral will be Tuesday, May 1, at Queen of All Saints Basillica, 6280 N. Sauganash Ave., Chicago at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in Moose’s name to the American Heart Association.
If you want to read our press release, you can click here.
For those readers who have attended past Blog Nights here at the ballpark, you know that I frequently asked Moose to attend. I just loved his stories, and his delivery, well, you couldn’t beat his frankness!
Moose wasn’t exactly “PC.” I guess that happens sometimes. That means I can’t really tell you all of the best stories about Moose. But I can come close.
He loved Mickey Mantle, and was loyal to him to the very end. Any time Moose told a Mickey story, his eyes would twinkle. And though I never met Mantle, I got a sense of their relationship through his friend. And I know this about Mantle, he took care of his friends.
One of the running jokes between Moose and Ed Farmer was about Farmer’s constant and unending pursuit of a signed Mickey Mantle ball. Farmer would ask, and Moose would at first deny he had any, and then only under pressure would he agree to sell one to Farmer at an exorbitant price.
Farmer would counter that Moose must have a printing press in his basement churning out Mickey Mantle “signed” baseballs. But what really happened, we surmised, was that years ago Mantle knew how valuable his signature was on a baseball and left his Yankee friends with enough signed balls to take care of them in old age. That is a friend and that is a teammate.
Moose was the most fun on the golf course, although he grew to hate the game in recent years when his physical strength diminished.
We had a set foursome at the annual White Sox outing – me, Moose, Don Brown and Bob Grim. I’d laugh for five hours.
It was so much fun to get Moose going. It didn’t matter the game, he was a competitor and wanted to win. He trash talked. He tried to put pressure on your putts. He kept you laughing.
But then he gave up the game. When pressed as to why he didn’t play any more, his response was a common one your heard with with Moose about many subjects … “You can take that game, and stick it up your #$%&!”
Man, will we miss that guy …
Moose is receiving a moment of silence before three baseball games today … Purdue University’s doubleheader, the Yankees game in the Bronx against the Tigers and our game against the Red Sox. It seems only appropriate.
A black diamond with the word “Moose” is on the padding next to the White Sox on-deck circle and our team will begin wearing black diamond patches with B-M-S on their sleeves as soon as they arrive.
I’m sure many fans have their favorite Moose stories from the years – I haven’t even mentioned his having to take dancing lessons to improve his footwork at first base – I’d love to read them as comments posted here.