By 1965, Bill “Moose” Skowron had been a nine-year starter with the Yankees, played one season with the Dodgers, and had a short stint with the Senators before being traded (with Carl Bouldin) to the White Sox in July 1964 for Frank Kreutzer and Joe Cunningham. His career as a Yankee was somewhat overshadowed by the likes of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Yogi Berra, but he was consistently productive for the Yankees, batting .294, hitting 165 home runs, and driving in 672 runs for the franchise. During his nine seasons with the Yankees, he helped the team to 7 World Series (and helped the Dodgers to another in 1963). He batted .293 with eight home runs and 29 RBI in 39 World Series games over the course of his career. On any other team, Skowron would have batted 3rd or 4th for the most productive seasons of his career instead of 5th or 6th; some believe that on a different team, he might have put up Hall-of-Fame-caliber numbers.
The 1965 season was Skowron’s first full season with the White Sox and his only truly productive one. He led a relatively low-scoring offense with 78 RBI and 237 total bases, and matched John Romano for most home runs with 18. His .274 batting overage was second only to Don Buford among starters. His performance earned him a spot on the All Star team with teammate Eddie Fisher. Although his production for White Sox was rather short-lived, he would become a beloved former player, working as a community relations representative for the team from 1999 until his death from lung cancer in April 2012.
Skowron’s importance to the 1965 squad was underscored on June 13th. Having lost to the Senators on the 12th, the White Sox started the day 1.5 games behind the Twins. Senators center-fielder Don Lock hit a solo home run off of Sox starter Bruce Howard in the bottom of the 2nd, and then the teams locked in a pitching duel for four innings. Still trailing 1-0 in the top of the 7th, Skowron came to the plate with one out and crushed a solo home run of his own off Senators starter Pete Richert, who was in the middle of one of the best seasons of his 13-year career. In the top of the 9th, Floyd Robinson led off the inning with a double, and after Danny Cater struck out, Skowron tripled the opposite way to drive in the eventual game-winning run. Hoyt Wilhelm, who pitched the last two scoreless innings, picked up his first win of the season. With the Twins losing to the Tigers, the White Sox pulled within a half game of the league lead.
A child looking at Skowron’s 1965 card might have wondered why he was nicknamed Moose. At 6’0” and 197 pounds, he was a muscular guy, but not particularly big. His face was large and narrowed at the jaw, so that could be it. But a really inquisitive child would have learned that as a kid, Skowron’s grandfather had thought he looked like Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini, that the nickname eventually got shortened to Moose, and that it obviously stuck for his entire baseball career.