As the MLB world waits to hear if any former players will be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame this year, it is fun to look back on some of those players who weren’t quite good enough for enshrinement in Cooperstown but still played a critical role in the history of the sport.
While he wasn’t the most important player on 5 World Series championship teams, Bill Skowron, who would have celebrated his 91st birthday today, was one of those players.
Early Life and Start of Career
While Skorwon was born to a traditional Polish family in Chicago, Illinois, it was an unfortunate haircut that would invoke comparisons to an Italian dictator. At the age of seven, Skowron’s haircut resembled that of Benito Mussolini, causing his friends to nickname him Mussolini. Fortunately for Skowron, that nickname would eventually be shortened to Moose.
Skowron eventually attended Purdue University on a football scholarship but switched to baseball where he set a Big10 record by hitting .500 his sophomore season. After that season, Moose joined an independent AA club before signing with the Yankees following the season.
Skowron took over first base for the Yankees in 1954 and held down the position through the 1962 season. During his Yankees career, Skowron was an 8-time All-Star and established himself as one of the better contact hitters in the sport. Playing with the likes of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roger Marris, and Whitey Ford, during his 9-seasons in the Bronx, Skowron hit .294/.346/.496 while averaging 18 home runs a season.
Following the 1962 season, Skowron played for the Dodgers and Senators for a season, followed by a 4-year stint with the White Sox and a final half-season with the Angels. While Skowron never quite replicated his hitting abilities from his Yankee days, he still served as a team leader.
While Skowron was a key performer during the Regular Season, his success in the playoffs made him one of the more impactful players in baseball during the late-50s and early-60s. In his 9-seasons with the Yankees, Skowron was a part of 8 teams that made the World Series winning 5.
In the 1958 series, he drove in the winning run in Game 6 with the Yankees facing elimination, and in the final game hit a critical 3-run home run. Meanwhile, he scored the only run in Game 7 of the 1962 series. After struggling with the Dodgers the following season he once again found success in October. This time, playing against the Yankees, he led the team with a .385 average as the Dodgers swept the Yankees.
From 1964 through half of the 1967 season, Skowron found a home with his hometown White Sox. After a final half-season with the Angels, Moose called it a career. He eventually returned to the White Sox as a Community Relations Representative, a position he held until his death in 2012.
While Skowron’s career fell short of the MLB Hall of Fame, his contributions to the game made him one of the more critical players during his playing career. While he never quite made it to Cooperstown, he was inducted into the National Polish-American Hall of Fame in 1980.
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Main image credit Embed from Getty Images