Bill “Moose” Skowron, a five-time World Series champion who played for the Chicago White Sox from 1964-67, passed away early Friday morning at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill., from congestive heart failure. He was 81.
Best known as a member of the great New York Yankees teams of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Skowron played for five teams over the course of a 14-year career that spanned from 1954-67. He won four World Series titles with the Yankees (1956, 1958, 1961 and 1962) and another with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1963), playing in eight World Series overall. Skowron made his Major League debut on April 13, 1954 with the Yankees and spent nine seasons in New York (1954-62) prior to stints with the Dodgers (1963), Senators (1964), White Sox (1964-67) and Angels (1967).
Skowron had worked for the White Sox since 1999, when he joined the community relations department as part of the organization’s speakers bureau, making appearances and greeting fans on behalf of the team.
“We all have lost a dear, dear friend today,” said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “While Moose may have become a star in New York with the Yankees, he was a Chicagoan through and through. I certainly will miss his priceless stories about Casey Stengel, Roger Maris, Hank Bauer and of course, his good friend, Mickey Mantle. A few years ago, we started a tradition of holding monthly lunches here at the ballpark, and the laughter and conversation always centered around Moose. My guess is that right now Mickey, Roger, Hank and Moose are enjoying a good laugh together.”
Skowron liked to recount how, as a rookie, he was warned by the veteran Yankees not to “mess up” and endanger their seemingly annual World Series shares. Once, Stengel gave Skowron the “take” sign, only to see Moose swing away and line a home run down the left field line. As he ran toward first base, Skowron sheepishly looked toward the dugout to see how his manager was reacting. “Way to go, Moose!” Stengel applauded.
Another time, Skowron was invited out to dinner with Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. “I shaved four times beforehand,” Skowron always laughed.
While he was with the White Sox, Skowron was playing first base one game against the Yankees when Mantle walked. Sox manager Eddie Stanky had a strict rule against talking to the opposing team. The fine was $50. When he reached first base, Mantle struck up a conversation with his longtime friend, Moose.
Skowron covered his mouth with his glove and told Mantle, “I can’t talk to you Mickey. I’ll get fined $50 by Stanky.”
“You mean with all the money I made you during your career, I’m not worth $50 bucks?” Mantle responded. At that point, Moose gave up and called over to Stanky in the White Sox dugout, “I owe you $50 bucks.”
Skowron told friends his one regret in baseball came in 1964 when his White Sox team fell one game short of winning the American League pennant. A World Series title that season would have given Skowron three consecutive World Series rings with three different teams.
The powerful first baseman hit more than 20 home runs four times in his career, batted over .300 in five of his first seven seasons and was an eight-time All-Star. A career .282 hitter, Skowron hit 211 homers and drove in 888 runs in his career. Skowron appeared in eight World Series and won five titles in a nine-year span from 1955-63, hitting eight home runs in 39 World Series games. He delivered the winning home run in the decisive Game 7 of the 1958 World Series as the Yankees beat the Milwaukee Braves.
Born in 1930 on the North Side of Chicago, Skowron attended Weber High School and then Purdue University on a football scholarship before focusing on baseball.
He is survived by his wife, Lorraine “Cookie;” daughter Lynnette (husband Steve), and granddaughter Addyson; son Greg (wife Sheryl) and grandsons Jordan, Grant and Blake; and son Steve. Skowron also is survived by his brother Edward (wife Dorothy and daughter Lisa). Funeral services details are pending.