Moose was good in color and in black-and-white.
Why we like him: Nicknames are awesome. They can make a guy who would be otherwise irrelevant seem like an integral part of the game like Oil Can or Lima Time. They can also take a player who is already a legend and take them to an even higher, more transcendent level of cultural enormity like the Bambino or the Commerce Comet. Still other nicknames are just too good not to be used.
Bill Skowron was a stalwart at first base for the New York Yankees during their era of dominance in the late 50s and early 60s. His nickname, “Moose,” was given to him after seven-year old Bill was given a haircut by his own grandfather that made him look like Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, and his grandfather’s pals jokingly called him “Mussolini.” Obviously, a four-syllable nickname is just entirely too long, so was shortened simply to “Moose.”
On the diamond, Moose was actually quite good. He was a six-time All Star and batted .282 with 211 home runs over the course of his 14-year career in the majors. In 1960, a .309-26-91 season earned him a ninth-place finish in MVP voting, and teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle finished first and second respectively. While Skowron was never quite the caliber of player that you could build an entire team around, he was a solid 5- or 6-hole hitter that could have probably batted cleanup on many other teams.
Skowron was traded to the then-new Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of the 1962 season for Stan Williams, but he never really was able to recapture the magic of his years in the
Bronx. In the twilight of his career, he bounced around between the Senators, White Sox, and Angels, and he ultimately retired in 1967. Moose is a player I really wish I could have seen play myself, and even to this day, I think he’s still my dad’s favorite player of all time. He might not have been good enough for Cooperstown, but Moose will definitely live forever in the heart of the game.
Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Skowron, Ballplayer.