I thought this was a great article...made my eyes fill up yet again....but it was worth it...hope you enjoy it. Jim -- wasn't sure where this article belonged...hope this is right..otherwise, feel free to move it...thanks!
Holy Cow! Scooter Finds Way to Help
On the morning of Sept. 11, Phil Rizzuto and his wife Cora were puttering about their house in Hillside, N.J., starting to pack some bags for a cruise they planned to take up the New England coast to Montreal as a celebration of the Yankee great's 84th birthday.
They were also expecting a telephone call from Rizzuto's financial adviser, Craig Richards, whose office at Fiduciary Trust was located on the 92nd floor of the south tower at the World Trade Center.
"I went over there regularly to meet with him," Rizzuto was saying the other day. "I hated that elevator, how it shaked."
Like millions of other Americans, Rizzuto and his wife had no idea of the horrific events that morning that were about to change their lives forever. From the attic of their home, you could see the tops of the twin towers on a clear day, and in the days immediately after the terror attacks that reduced the structures to a pile of rubble, Cora Rizzuto would seclude herself up there, occasionally staring out at the empty skyline, numb with disbelief and sadness.
The Scooter's 84th birthday certainly was one he will never forget. The first day, especially, had been spent with anxious hours with no word from Richards. Then, that night, he called to tell them he was all right. He had worked late the night before, he said, and, as a result, didn't get to see his children before they went to bed. On that Tuesday morning, they had begged him to stay home a little longer before going to work.
"Imagine that," Rizzuto said. "His young kids probably saved him. He was just parking his car at the PATH station in Jersey City when the planes struck."
Despite that sliver of good news, the cruise, Cora declared, was definitely off.
"I couldn't bear the thought of sailing out of the harbor of this beautiful city with all that pain, grief and destruction behind," she said.
Rizzuto was relieved because, privately, he hadn't wanted to go, either. But now, he, too, felt lost and in a perpetual daze. He wished there was something he could do, but at 84, he felt helpless and housebound.
Then last Monday, the Rizzutos got a phone call from their daughter, Penny, who works for a crisis intervention center in Albany. She had just spent two days at Pier 94, counseling and consoling the families of the thousands of casualties, dead and missing.
"Dad," she said, "you've got to go over there."
"Oh, Penny, I don't know," Rizzuto replied. "Let me ask your mother what she thinks."
"She's right," Cora said, her mood suddenly brightening. "That's what we should do. Tell her we're going. We'll make the arrangements right now."
Tuesday morning, Rizzuto's birthday, they made the trek across the river and down the West Side Highway. When they reached the first security checkpoints, the police immediately recognized the Hall of Fame shortstop and directed him on through to the pier.
"I couldn't believe what I saw," Rizzuto said. "What a job they've done on that pier! Carpets, computers, food, everything the people there need. I guess what really got me the most, though, were all the teddy bears. There must have been thousands of them, lining the walls the entire length of the pier. They'd been shipped up from Oklahoma City that day and there were individual notes on each one from kids in Oklahoma City to the victims' kids here."
Sitting in his kitchen, relating this story over a cup of coffee, Rizzuto's eyes began to well up.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I'm an old man and I've seen a lot, but this really got to me. It still does just to talk about it."
Once they arrived at the pier, the Rizzutos weren't exactly sure what they were supposed to do. It took maybe a minute, or as soon as the people recognized them and began thanking them for coming, that they knew. For the next 4 1/2 hours, the Scooter, accompanied by bleary-eyed cops who had not slept in days, moved from family to family, telling his Yankee stories of "huckleberries" past and present and bringing smiles to faces otherwise filled with only dwindled hope and despair.
"The pictures on the wall of all the missing, that was the most touching and heartbreaking part of all," Cora said.
"After awhile," Rizzuto said, "I got into a groove. They briefed us not to stay too long with one group. They looked so lost, waiting there for a death certificate or a body part. Cora knew the right things to say."
At the end of the day, one of the policemen, who had lost a buddy, presented Cora with a rose in an envelope on which he inscribed: "Thank you for your kindness. From the New York City Police Department."
Fondling the now faded and parched rose in her hand some five days later, Cora said: "Do you believe that? They're thanking us when we were thanking them!"
Rizzuto smiled at the mention of that. His daughter had been right. They had needed to go to Pier 94 — just a short walk from where their cruise was to depart.
"I can't imagine," he said, "a more fulfilling birthday."