Rhode Island is famous for you
Now that the Bud-I’s back and ready to assume his duties behind the microphone at WPRO as the “Salty of the Future,” there is one minor issue with which Jorge, strangely enough, has been peripherally involved. Here’s the tale.
Back in early 1984, when Cianci was still engaged in his first go-around as mayor of Providence, Jorge was starting his first term as a radio talk-show host at WHJJ-AM. Later, when the Bud-I was offered his own talk-show at ’HJJ, he called Jorge and asked about his previous theme song. It was an obscure recording of “Rhode Island is Famous for You,” a song, composed for a short-lived Broadway musical Inside USA, by songwriters Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz (Dancing In the Dark, That’s Entertainment, By Myself), and originally sung by one of the show’s stars, Jack Haley Jr. (the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz).
Jorge’s recording was from a 1976 vinyl LP of Schwartz singing his own compositions. Dietz was the real genius of the songwriting duo. His well-turned and frequently clever lyrics outstripped Schwartz’s all-too-often pedestrian tunes. Add to this how Schwartz’s singing voice made Fred Astaire sound like Sinatra, and you’ve got the makings for an LP that sold perhaps hundreds of copies.
One of those was bought by Jorge’s aunt, Millie Gaston, who gave it up to him when he started his talk-show. Jorge was familiar with the tune because a local band, Soop (featuring Martin Mull on vocals and guitar) regularly performed it. Jorge passed the record onto Buddy, and it became strongly associated with his popular (as opposed to Jorge’s not-so-popular) talk show.
This was all forgotten until a few years ago, when Cherry Arnold searched for the Schwartz rendition for inclusion in her Bud-I documentary. Jorge looked all over and could not find the record. Cherry went so far as to contact Schwartz’s son, Jona¬than, who has for decades hosted a popular Frank Sinatra show on New York radio, but he didn’t have a copy.
Last week, as Jorge was scouring Casa Diablo during a semi-decennial cleaning, the vinyl magically appeared. This seemed like an omen, coming in the same week when Bud-I’s return to broadcasting was announced. So, Buddy, we’ve got the theme song. If you want it, you can use it, and P&J wish you great success with your new venture.
While P+J are tried and true members of Red Sox Nation, we set the flags at half-mast at upon the death of former New York Yankee Phil Rizzuto. “The Scooter,” as the 5’6” shortstop was known, was a linchpin of the dominating Yankees’ teams of the late 1940s and early 1950s teams. These Bombers won the World Series eight times — including five in a row, from 1949-1953 — as Rizzuto won the AL MVP honor in 1950.
But it was the Scooter rise in the Yankees radio and TV broadcast booth where he found lasting fame. He was famous for his yelps of ‘Holy Cow!” and defined “stream of consciousness,” as his mind frequently wandered while he was on-air, often appealing to his broadcast partners to tell him what happened on the field, because as he would freely admit, “I wasn’t watching.” One of his famed countless free-flow comments seemingly beamed straight in from outer space was: “Well that [Pope Paul VI passing away] kind of puts the damper on even a Yankee win."
The Scooter, who had a heavy New York accent, constantly pronounced former Sox hurler Oil Can Boyd’s last name as “Bird.” After being corrected time after time by his partner, Bill White, Rizzuto said he just couldn’t say the name properly. White suggested: “Just think of those things that fly around in the sky.” Rizzuto said, “You mean boids?” “Yes,” replied White. “Hey, I’ve got it!” Scooter exclaimed with delight. “Oil Can Boid! Thanks, White.”
His free-flow commentary led to the publication of a book, O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto, which turned his game commentary into poetry. To wit: