Bill 'Moose' Skowron 1930-2012

Bill 'Moose' Skowron 1930-2012
Bill "Moose" Skowron in 2001 at Comiskey Park. (Chris Walker / Tribune Photo)

Bill "Moose" Skowron, who went from marbles, softball and dreams on the parks and playgrounds of the Northwest Side to attain fame as one of the greatest athletes from Chicago, has died. He was 81.

Skowron, whose most enduring renown came as a member of the mythic Yankees from 1954-1962, succumbed to congestive heart failure at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights early Friday. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer in March 2011.

"We all have lost a dear, dear friend," White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "While Moose may have been become a star in New York, he was a Chicagoan through and through."

Added Yogi Berra, Skowron's long-time Yankees teammate: "There weren't many better guys than Moose. He was a dear friend and a great team man. A damned good ballplayer too."

The son of a Chicago garbage collector, he starred in football at now-closed Weber High School, which didn't field a baseball team, before accepting a football scholarship to Purdue.

In West Lafayette, Skowron played both football and baseball. He left after hitting a Big Ten-record .500 his sophomore season to accept a $25,000 bonus from the Yankees.

Surrounded by stars including Berra, Mickey Mantle and later Roger Maris, Skowron played in eight World Series — the last with the Dodgers in 1963. His teams won five, and he was an eight-time All-Star first baseman.

Skowron eventually returned home with the White Sox from 1964-1967 before closing out his MLB career with the California Angels at the end of the '67 season.

His final big-league statistics included 211 home runs, 888 RBIs and a batting average of .282 over 14 seasons.

In more recent years, Skowron worked as a White Sox community ambassador.

The White Sox carved out a diamond-shaped tribute box Friday reading simply "Moose" on the field surface near their dugout. A team spokesman also said the players will begin wearing shoulder patches with the letters BMS "in the next few days."

Skowron's survivors include wife Cookie, daughter Lynnette, sons Greg and Steve, brother Edward and four grandchildren.

Visitation is 2-to-9 p.m. Monday at the Colonial-Wojciechowski Funeral Home, 8025 Golf Rd. in Niles. A funeral mass is at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Queen of All Saints Basilica, 6280 N. Sauganash Ave. in Chicago.