This story was first published in the Tribune on May 22, 2011.
The voice is softer now but as affable and entertaining as ever.
Like the night Marilyn Monroe was flirting -- only not with Skowron, nor her volatile paramour Joe DiMaggio, nor the other New York Yankees at dinner.
"DiMaggio had brought her to spring training one year, and we begged him to take us to dinner with her," Skowron said. "I shaved four times that day. She was great -- charming, funny, wanting to learn more about baseball.
"And absolutely gorgeous."
But the celluloid goddess had been quietly checking out some fella across the room. When the supremely territorial Yankee Clipper went to the men's room, the glances only got chancier.
"All I thought was, 'If DiMaggio comes out and sees this, we've got problems,' " Skowron said. "Thank God she had the sense to cut it out when he got back."
Monroe. DiMaggio. Marquee names that drop easily when you're talking with William Joseph "Moose" Skowron Jr., one-time Yankee, White Sox and "Mr. Ed" co-star, among other experiences.
They are conversations that carry greater significance for those closest to him. It has been a rough few months for Skowron. After turning 80 in December, he collapsed at a ballpark in Arizona during spring training.
"He collapsed into my arms," said oldest son Greg, a trucking executive in the Phoenix area. "We were leaving a spring game around the fifth inning, which was unusual for him. Then he turned down an autograph request, which I'd never seen him do before. Then he turned to me and said, 'I don't feel so good.' "
The initial diagnosis was pneumonia.
Tests later found lung cancer.
Since then, Moose's life has spun around chemotherapy and radiation sessions at Rush University Medical Center. Not to mention the ceaseless faith, nurturing and hope from wife Cookie and daughter Lynnette.
"Don't leave out Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox people in all of this," said Skowron, who has served the South Siders as a community relations representative since 1999. "Bob Grim, Ed Farmer, Steve Stone, so many ... They've all been great."
Said Reinsdorf: "I love Moose. He is one of the most wonderful people I've ever known." For Skowron, through the love, through the unknown and the fatiguing hospital appointments have come his new greatest hope -- a return to normalcy, a day at the old ball game.
A few years ago, a Chicago newspaper ran its list of the 25 greatest athletes ever produced by the toddlin' town.
Skowron was not on the roster. To this day, his friends remain outraged.
From the archives: Skowron revels in storytelling as he battles lung cancer
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