|Played for New YorkYankees (1954-1962); Los Angeles Dodgers (1963); Washington Senators (1964); Chicago White Sox (1964-1967); California Angels (1967)
All Star 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1965
Signed by the NYY as an amateur free agent in 1950
Born in Chicago, a onetime kicker for Purdue, William Joseph Skowron signed to play baseball for the Yankees in 1951 for a $25,000 bonus. He won the Minor League Player of the Year award in 1952. But the Yankees wanted him to get more seasoning and had him wait a year before they brought him up to the big show ....
Moose (the nickname came from his grandfather, who thought Skowron looked like Mussolini and contracted Mussolini's name) batted over .300 in his first four seasons with the New York Yankees, hit more than twenty home runs three straight seasons (1960-1962), and drove in eighty or more runs in five different years. A five-time All Star, number 14 was a Yankee anchor, a dependable fielder at first base, a clutch hitter who helped the Yankees win seven pennants and four world championships.
Part of Skowron's hitting profile was powerful opposite-field home runs. He used one hand to slam shots when it seemed that he was fooled by outside curveballs. "I don't always swing at strikes," the Moose said. "I swing at the ball when it looks big."
It was Skowron who made the final out of the 1957 World Series as the Yankees lost to Milwaukee. The next year he became a hero in the World Series against the Braves, driving in the winning run in game six. His three-run homer in the eighth inning of game seven gave the Yankees a win and another world championship.
In 1962, Skowron was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played later for the Senators, White Sox, and Angels. But the affable Skowron, who five times as a Yankee batted over .300 and who had a .294 average in nine New York seasons, says: "I am first and foremost a Yankee."
-- Harvey Frommer
A Yankee Century
Bill Skowron, 6 feet tall and 200 pounds of brute strength, was a powerful hitter who could reach the distant Stadium bleachers hitting the ball with one hand on the bat. His teammates called him Popeye, a tribute to his muscularity, yet Skowron was not a fighter. He was a big, likeable, gentle guy, and though he always had a black scowl on his face, it was a mask, for he was an extraordinarily good-natured person.
Teammates often made Moose the focus of their practical jokes .... Moose one time brought a new pair of sporty, green-checked dress slacks to the ball game. After the game he put the slacks back on, only to discover to his anguish that one of the legs had been scissored at the knee. Often he found his sweatshirts, underwear, and socks tied in combinations of undecipherable knots, and there were times when he put his foot into his spikes and discovered caked deposits of dried mud stuffed into the baseball shoe.
He was kidded mercilessly. Skowron had attended Purdue University where he had played football, and always his teammates made fun of his college attendance. "How the hell did you get into college, Moose?" they would say. "With your IQ you probably can't even spell Purdue!" Moose would feign anger, growl, and chase his tormenters around the locker room, but he loved the attention and always came back for more .... Above all Bill wanted very much to be liked. Skowron was a conscientious, sincere, and hard-working man. If any teammate asked Moose to come out to the park at any time to practice -- an infielder needing a first-baseman, a pitcher who wanted to work on his pick-off move, another first-baseman who needed instruction -- Moose would be there to help in any way he could. He was a tremendous asset to the Yankee ball club, both for his ability and his attitude.
But in baseball there are problems inherent with being conscientious and hard-working. Moose suffered the same way Mickey Mantle suffered, feeling that every time he batted he should get a base hit -- and when he didn't, it would anger him. When Moose found himself in a prolonged slump, he would brood and become sullen, making his slump even worse .... His teammates would talk to Moose to try to give him confidence, buoy his spirits, and eventually Moose would break out of his slump and surge on a hitting streak of tremendous productivity. His streaks were as high as his slumps were low, and in Skowron's seven years under Casey Stengel, beginning in 1954, he batted .340, .319, .308, .273, .298, and in 1960 .309 with twenty-six home runs and ninety-one runs batted in. He was an American League All-Star from 1957-1961, kept from greatness by an incredibly ill-fortuned, debilitating string of injuries which impeded his mobility and caused him mental and physical anguish ....
For all of his sensitivity and good nature, Moose Skowron for many years had unbelievably bad luck. He was a man injured more often than he was healthy, and during the final five years of his major league career he had to contend with a marital situation which often brought him to the edge of insanity .... He was a dutiful husband and father, but like all baseball players, he had to be away from his family when the team was on the road. After eight years of Moose's absence during these trips, his wife without prior warning began calling him in his hotel room at odd hours of the night, checking to see if he was there, accusing him of infidelity, while at the same time, tired of sitting around the house waiting for him to return, she decided to do some entertaining of her own.
Loyalty was very important to Moose, and when he lost hers, he could not accept what was happening to him marriage .... Skowron was beyond consolation, though the other players tried to comfort him as best they could. The split between him and his wife became wider and her hostility intensified. Moose finally resorted to putting detectives on her trail; he was beside himself when the detectives sent him their reports of her activities. It was a situation which he could not understand or handle rationally. In the middle of a game Moose would approach a teammate. "Do you know who she was out with last night?" he would ask. "That contractor again." Then Moose, his eyes reddened, would ask, "What should I do?" There wasn't much he could do except sue for divorce, a divorce he was granted in 1964 after he had left the Yankees.
Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964