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HOF scout Rizzo, father of Nats GM, dies at 90

@zachsilver
February 1, 2020

WASHINGTON -- Phil Rizzo, a member of the Professional Scouts Hall of Fame and special advisor to Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo, his son, passed away at the age of 90, the team announced Saturday afternoon. "My dad is totally responsible for where I'm at today," Mike Rizzo said in

WASHINGTON -- Phil Rizzo, a member of the Professional Scouts Hall of Fame and special advisor to Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo, his son, passed away at the age of 90, the team announced Saturday afternoon.

"My dad is totally responsible for where I'm at today," Mike Rizzo said in a statement. "Not only the way he brought me up in baseball, but that he gave me the love of the game, and we worked out harder together for me to become a good player. He taught me how to work hard, be aggressive, go after what you want and get it done."

Phill Rizzo joined the Nationals in 2009 in a special advisor role, the same year his son was promoted to general manager after serving as an assistant GM the prior two seasons. The duo immediately helped bring winning baseball to Washington: Since 2009, the Nationals have had just three losing seasons and four National League East Division titles, and they secured an NL pennant and World Series title just months before Phil's passing.

Mike and Phil's relationship was extraordinarily close. The two would share phone calls constantly through the club's run to the World Series, with the elder Rizzo often sharing advice from his years of experience in the game.

"Nothing that we can print or say on TV," Mike Rizzo quipped at the club's Fanfest on Jan. 11.

During his time as a scout, Phill Rizzo has been credited with finding Brandon Webb, the right-hander who ultimately went on to win an NL Cy Young Award in 2006, for the D-backs, as well as signing other players such as Mike Matheny, Dick Schofield and Mark Loretta. Mike Rizzo's first high-level position was as Arizona's scouting director after working as a scout for the D-backs among other teams.

Phill Rizzo's accomplishments earned him a spot in the inaugural Professional Scouts Hall of Fame class in 2008.

Neither Mike nor Phil Rizzo made their way to a big league club as a player, but both had their fair share of time in the Minor Leagues. Mike credits the work ethic he inherited from his father for getting him to the point of being drafted by the Angels in the 22nd round of the 1982 Draft and spending three years in their system. Phil spent six seasons in the Minors from 1951-56, playing for a score of different teams.

Phil Rizzo's baseball career spanned 50 years, but no year was as special as being a special advisor and having a front-row seat to watch his son bring D.C. its first World Series trophy since 1924.

"He's beyond happy. He's ecstatic," Mike Rizzo said. "It's the greatest season of his life, and he's had a bunch of them."

Zachary Silver is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Baltimore/Washington. Follow him on Twitter @zachsilver.