Prior to the Yankees’ series opener against the Detroit Tigers on Friday night, the stadium observed a moment of silence to honor Bill “Moose” Skowron, who passed away earlier Friday at the age of 81. The veteran of 14 big league seasons died of congestive heart failure at home in Illinois.
Skowron was a beloved ambassador for the game, renowned for his storytelling and affable personality. He had been a popular fixture on Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium for years.
More than just a good man with a knack for entertaining with his tales of baseball’s golden era, Skowron was a talented ballplayer that enjoyed a brilliant career during the 1950s and ‘60s.
Moose came up with the Yankees in 1954 and settled in as their primary first baseman for nearly a decade. Between ’54 and 1962, Skowron was a member of four World Series-winning clubs and played in the Fall Classic seven times. In nine seasons as a Yankee, he hit .294 with 165 home runs, 672 RBI and an OPS+ of 129.
Following his Yankee career, Moose played five more seasons, four with the Chicago White Sox and individual years with the Washington Senators, Los Angeles Dodgers and California Angels. During his lone season with the Dodgers in 1963, Skowron again won the World Series, this time playing a critical role for LA in a sweep of the Yankees.
Over his 14 seasons as a major leaguer, Skowron was a .288 hitter with 211 home runs and 888 RBI.
Always a productive hitter, Skowron thrived in the postseason, where he was a .293 hitter with an .845 OPS. In eight career World Series, he played 39 games and hit eight home runs with 29 RBI.
Not only did he fill out the score card well in his World Series appearances, but he developed a stellar reputation for clutch hitting with numerous instances of postseason heroics.
His three-run home run off of Lew Burdette in the eighth inning of Game 7 helped the Yankees beat the Braves in the 1958 World Series. He had won Game 6 on the previous day with a game-winning single in the 10th inning.
Over his World Series career, he hit home runs in three different Game 7 contests, making him one of only two players to do so in Major League history. Along with Yogi Berra, he was also one of only two players to drive in four runs in two different Game 7s, in 1956 and ’58.
Despite playing on teams loaded with stars, including Berra, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard and Roger Maris, among others, Skowron was often one of the more feared hitters with the game on the line.
Though he was fearsome with a bat in his hand, Moose was well-liked throughout his career and long past the end of his playing days.
The baseball family lost a beloved member Friday as well as a vital link to one of its most storied eras. Rest in peace Bill “Moose” Skowron.