Friends, former teammates remember Skowron

Friends, former teammates remember Skowron

CHICAGO -- When former Yankee Tony Kubek began his first full Major League season with New York in 1957, legendary manager Casey Stengel put the youngster in the same room as Moose Skowron when the team was on the road.

Kubek first thought the pairing was because both he and Skowron were of Polish descent. Then he realized he could learn a lot from Skowron, a powerful right-handed hitter who would be named to six All-Star teams. He also quickly realized he could never beat Skowron in "Battleship."

"We'd sit the boards on the beds and Moose would say 'B-3,' and I'd say 'You just sunk my battleship,'" Kubek recalled Tuesday morning while delivering a eulogy at Skowron's funeral in Chicago. "He'd say 'E-4.' 'Moose, you just sunk another one.'

"I finally heard that, in the room, he'd look on the other side of the bed from him and the mirror would be there."

That was just one of many tales shared Tuesday morning at Queen of All Saints Basilica in Chicago, where Skowron's life was celebrated among family, friends and former teammates and colleagues.

Skowron, a community relations representative for the White Sox for the past 13 years, died Friday at the age of 81. He was a victim of lung cancer, diagnosed in March 2011.

A Chicago native who spent at least parts of his last four Major League seasons in Chicago, Skowron was famous for his years spent with the powerful Yankees clubs of the 1950s and '60s that featured the likes of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra.

Many former teammates -- among them Bobby Richardson, Don Larsen, Bob Turley and Kubek -- and members of the Yankee and White Sox families were on hand for Skowron's funeral.

"It's just an anomaly to belong to two different teams and two different cities and be so beloved by so many people," Kubek said.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who also was in attendance, described Skowron as "a one-of-a-kind kind of guy" last week upon hearing of his passing.

"Tough news," Ventura said then. "Health-wise, we've been getting a lot of rough news, but he was a great man. It's one of those where he was a friend to everybody and everybody loved seeing him when he comes in. We're going to miss him."

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf also issued a statement following Skowron's death that read, in part, "My guess is that right now Mickey, Roger, Hank [Bauer] and Moose are enjoying a good laugh together."

That sentiment was echoed in Kubek eulogy, who added the four also probably are sporting their traditional crew cuts of the their heyday.

Kubek described Skowron as a true Yankee and White Sox, who will be missed by all he touched -- and all with whom he shared stories.

"I don't know all your names," Father Nick Marro said in his homily to the family, friends and former teammates in attendance. "But I'm sure you can tell a multitude of of stories about Moose."

As Skowron was laid to rest Tuesday, those stories lived on.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.