Saturday April 28th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL
I was saddened to learn of the passing today of former Yankees and White Sox baseball player Bill ‘Moose’ Skowron at age 81. I had the pleasure of meeting him years ago and thought he was a delightful human being. He was friendly and funny and lit up the whole room when he entered.
He owned or at least partly owned a bar with a restaurant not far from U.S. Cellular Field, and I went there after a White Sox game once with a comedian friend named Ross Bennett. I turned Ross on to wheeling and dealing sports cards as something to do on the road, and he enjoyed it.
In fact, he’s the one who suggested we go visit the bar in the first place. He’d heard Moose was a nice guy, and often showed up to sign autographs and visit with the customers. There happened to be a card show in town that weekend, and Moose was scheduled to be a paid autograph guest.
Ross thought instead of paying to go to the card show which would include more money to pay for parking and then paying again for an autograph, it would be a better idea to go to a Sox game and relax, then hit the bar to see if Moose might stop in. Even if he didn’t, it was worth the risk.
The game was a lot of fun, and then we went to the bar afterward but there was no Moose. We were fine with that, and each of us ordered a rack of ribs that were flat out delicious. Ross is one of my favorite people and always has been, so we hung out and enjoyed our meal and friendship.
About halfway through our rib dinner, sure enough in walked Moose with a big old grin on his face and an aura around him like he owned the joint – which he did. People gravitated toward his positive energy, and he was shaking hands and greeting people like a politician at a whistle stop.
He worked his way around the room, and eventually came over to our table. Ross and I didn’t mention we were comedians, as we didn’t want to upstage Moose. This was his home stage, and we both respected that. Plus, he was such an engaging fellow it would have been hard to take the spotlight from him. We were both just happy to have a chance to share some face time with him.
We bantered back and forth a bit, and then Ross politely asked him for an autograph, which he signed without question. It would have probably cost at least $60 with parking and admission to the card show, but here he got one for about $20 and it came with a rib feast. Now that’s a deal!
It was a wonderfully pleasant experience all around, and I was always a rabid fan of Moose’s after that. I’d never really heard much about him one way or another, only that he’d played with the Yankees and was friends with Mickey Mantle. I didn’t even know he was a Chicago native. All it took was a few minutes of personal contact, and I wanted to know everything about him.
It’s remarkable to see what being a quality person will do. I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, as both Chicago newspapers talked freely of how popular he was with players and fans alike. We should all strive to have our obituary read like Moose’s. One after another, quotes said what a great guy he was and how he’ll be missed. That’s what life is all about in my opinion. I’m sorry Moose Skowron has passed, but he sure didn’t waste his 81 years. That guy was a success.