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The Unnatural IN MARCH I WENT TO FORT LAUDERDALE to take in some strong sun and lazy baseball at the New York Yankees' spring training camp. The Yanks had several new faces on the field, but the biggest surprise I got came from an old friend, Phil Rizzuto, who told me that he's 72 years old. All I could do was repeat the phrase that Rizzuto, the Yankees' broadcaster, habitually uses to praise an outstanding play: "Holy cow," I said.
Rizzuto, for those of you who don't remember, was a terrific shortstop who played on some of the great Yankee teams in the past. His speed earned him the nickname Scooter. He knows the game as well as anyone, and he played it better than most. It's a major-league error that he still hasn't been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Philip Francis Rizzuto and I go back a heap of years. We met in the early 1940s while we were serving our country at the Naval Training Station in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1942 the base fielded a ball team of all-stars who attracted new recruits and entertained the thousands who were suffering through boot camp.
I'd volunteered for the hazardous duty of organizing the team's publicity. And what a team it was. In addition to Rizzuto, we had Sam Chapman of the Philadelphia Athletics, Fred Hutchinson of the Detroit Tigers, Vince DiMaggio and Broadway Charlie Wagner of the Boston Red Sox, Tom Early of the Boston Braves, and Tom Drake of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Imagine an infield with Jeff Cross of the St. Louis Cardinals at third, Rizzuto at short, Cleveland's Jack Conway at second, Conway's teammate Eddie Robinson at first, and …