Baseball Poetry by Lynn Rigney Schott about her father
Bill Rigney, 1952
"Spring Training" by Lynn Rigney Schott
The last of the birds has returned --- the bluebird, shy and flashy. The bees carry fat baskets of pollen from the alders around the pond. The wasps in the attic venture downstairs, where they congregate on warm windowpanes. Every few days it rains.
This is my thirty-fifth spring; still I am a novice at my work, confused and frightened and angry. Unlike me, the buds do not hesitate, the hills are confident they will be perfectly reflected in the glass of the river.
I oiled my glove yesterday. Half the season is over. When will I be ready?
On my desk sits a black-and-white postcard picture of my father -- skinny, determined, in a New York Giants uniform -- ears protruding, eyes riveted. Handsome, single-minded, he looks ready.
Thirty-five years of warmups. Like glancing down at the scorecard in your lap for half a second and when you look up it's done -- a long fly ball, moonlike, into the night over the fence, way out of reach.
Published in The New Yorker, March 26, 1984
How It Was at Second (for my father) By Lynn Rigney Schott
"He tore it off like a chicken wing–see? (a garland of scar around the thumb) cleats high as Cobb's and me hanging in, skinny as ever, ready to turn two, my meat hand dangling like bait before those mean teeth. As they carried me off the field he called,
'Hey, Four-eyes! What do you think about that?' 'Maybe the good Lord'll pick up the ball– who knows? It's a long season on the grass, you bastard.' In the end, in Boston, God disguised as Musial lined a final blast off his nose. I wired him a knowing nod."
He smiled, remembering to his daughter the kick and the smirk of Enos Slaughter.
Bill Rigney Is Dead at 83; New York Giants Manager
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN February 21, 2001
Bill Rigney, who played on the New York Giants' memorable pennant-winning team of 1951, then became the Giants' last manager at the Polo Grounds and first one in San Francisco, died yesterday in Walnut Creek, Calif. He was 83.
Rigney had been hospitalized since November with heart problems and pneumonia, his daughter, Lynn Rigney Schott, said. He was treated a year ago for lymphoma, but that was in remission.
The ultimate baseball lifer, Rigney spent 60 years in the game, as a player, manager, coach, scout, broadcaster and executive. He played second base, shortstop and third base for the Giants in the decade after World War II. He managed in the majors for 18 seasons, with the Giants, the Los Angeles and California Angels, the Minnesota Twins and the Giants again.
He won no pennants as a manager, but Rigney was a shrewd baseball man who knew just about everyone in the game.
A native of Alameda, Calif., whose family owned a tile business in the San Francisco area, Rigney could have gone into the business world, but he loved baseball. After playing sandlot ball after high school -- a skinny, bespectacled young man -- he signed with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in 1938 and remained in the minors until entering the Navy in 1943.
Playing the infield for the Giants from 1946 to 1953, Rigney was known mainly for his fine glove and strong arm, but he hit 17 home runs in 1947 on a team that set a National League home run record with 221. His roommate, first baseman Johnny Mize, hit 51 homers that year, prompting Rigney to remark that his room probably held the single-season home run record.
Rigney played in the All-Star Game in 1948 and was essentially a regular his first four years with the Giants, then became a utility player.
He played in just 44 games for the Giants in 1951, but that team, remembered for Bobby Thomson's playoff-winning homer against the Brooklyn Dodgers climaxing ''the Miracle of Coogan's Bluff,'' provided his biggest baseball thrill. ''My whole playing career is wrapped up in that club,'' Rigney said.
An intense ballplayer and a talented bench jockey, Rigney was known as the Cricket.
''My baseball talents were never going to be immortalized in stone monuments,'' he said. ''To make up for my limitations, I did a lot of talking-it-up. Pretty soon people started saying I chattered more than a cricket.''
Rigney replaced Leo Durocher as the Giants' manager in 1956 after managing the Giants' Minneapolis Millers farm team of the American Association to the Little World Series championship.
Like his mentor, Rigney was unafraid to play hunches and could be volatile in arguing with umpires, but he lacked Durocher's abrasiveness. His Giants finished sixth in 1956 and 1957, their final years in New York, then revived in San Francisco and went into the final week of the 1959 season in first place by two games. Then came a collapse that allowed the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the pennant; they beat out the Milwaukee Braves in a playoff series. The Giants' owner, Horace Stoneham, fired Rigney in June 1960.
Rigney became manager of the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961, led them to 70 victories in their inaugural season, then kept the Angels in the American League pennant race through mid-September in 1962. The Yankees went on to win the pennant as the Angels dropped to third place, but Rigney was named American League Manager of the Year. He was the senior American League manager by the time he was fired by the Angels in May 1969.
Rigney succeeded Billy Martin as the Minnesota Twins' manager in 1970 and led that team to an American League West title. He was fired by the Twins in July 1972, then became the Giants' manager again in 1976. His team finished fourth and then he left the dugout for good. He had been a broadcaster for the Oakland A's and was a special assistant with the team when he died.
In addition to his daughter, of Kettle Falls, Wash., Rigney, who lived in Alamo, Calif., is survived by two sons, William Jr., of Midland, Tex., and Tom, of Berkeley, Calif., a brother, Donald, of Lafayette, Calif., and six grandchildren.
''The fascinating thing about baseball is that everyone knows it is a business and you have to win and you have to draw fans and you have to be successful, but you still have fun along the line doing all that,'' Rigney once said. ''I don't think I ever woke up one day in my life that I didn't want to go to the ballpark.''