For decades Phil Rizzuto was at the center of a heated Hall of Fame debate. As shortstop for 9 pennant-winning teams and 7 World Series champions, Rizzuto was seen as Cooperstown-worthy by many.
Dodger captain and fellow shortstop Pee Wee Reese earned induction in 1984. During their careers, Scooter’s teams bested Reese’s in five of six of their October meetings. Rizzuto’s supporters reasoned that Reese’s induction necessarily meant Rizzuto himself was Hall-worthy.
Veterans Committee voters saw a more complicated case. Rizzuto’s career numbers of 1,558 hits, 38 homers, 563 RBI and .273 lifetime average seem well short of Cooperstown.
Bill White was Rizzuto’s partner in the Yankee broadcast booth from 1971-1988 before taking the presidency of the NL. As the NL chief, White served as a voting member of the Veterans Committee in 1994. White, along with Rizzuto teammate Yogi Berra and the Dodgers’ Reese each had votes. Together they successfully pushed voters to elect Rizzuto.
Shown here is a letter signed by White sent to teammate and Hall of Famer Stan Musial. White signed the letter shortly after ascending to the NL presidency.