NIAF News Releases



Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

(WASHINGTON, D.C. -- August 14, 2007) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) mourns the passing of longtime supporter Phil Rizzuto, the Hall of Fame shortstop, who died today at the age of 89.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of our constant supporter and friend, Phil Rizzuto,” says Chairman Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli. “He worked to preserve the heritage of Italian Americans. On the baseball field and in life, he was admired and respected by all.”

In 1993 Rizzuto received a NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports at the Foundation’s 18th Anniversary Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. During the gala, he addressed more than 3,000 guests from across the U.S. and the world. He was also honored at a NIAF gala in Westchester, N.Y. Over the years, he has attended many of NIAF’s Anniversary Awards Galas with his wife, Cora and friends Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola.

According to NIAF supporter and former Foundation honoree Yogi Berra,“ My dear friend and fellow Italian American left us with many great memories.”

Known as “The Scooter,” Rizzuto was the oldest living Hall of Famer. He played for the Yankees from 1941 to 1954, except for his years of Navy service during World War II (1943-45). He won seven World Series titles and played in five All-star games. He played for 13 seasons alongside Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. After leaving the major leagues in 1956, Rizzuto was hired as a Yankee broadcaster. He became famous for his trademark catch phrase, “Holy Cow!”

NIAF is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. To learn about our programs/events, visit

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