AS A YOUNG cop assigned to Yankees' dugout security for Game 2 of the 1950 World Series in Shibe Park, the late Frank Rizzo held Joe DiMaggio's cigarette for him while the slugger strode to home plate and smashed a 10th-inning homer that proved to be the difference in the Phillies' 2-1 loss.
Truth? Or urban myth?
IT'S THE TRUTH! City Councilman Frank Rizzo Jr., son of the former Philadelphia mayor, told Broad Street Billy that he heard the DiMaggio story from his dad.
"DiMaggio's smoking a cigarette in the tunnel behind the dugout," Rizzo said. "It's his turn to bat. He turns to my father and says, 'Frank, hold this while I go hit a home run.' Then he smacks one out of the park.
"My dad crumples the cigarette and puts it in his pocket. DiMaggio comes back to the dugout and says, 'Where's my cigarette?' My dad says, 'I don't know.' "
Rizzo said that his dad saved the butt for decades, but never got around to showing it to his son.
"I think I know where it is," he said. "I should find it and end the controversy. It could turn out to be BS, but I don't think so."
IT'S URBAN MYTH! Eddie Deane Jr. of Rhawnhurst, whose father Eddie Deane was a traffic cop assigned to Yankees' dugout security at the 1950 World Series, said the DiMaggio story is bunk.
His dad, now 86, said he never saw Frank Rizzo in the Yankees dugout, with or without Joe D's cigarette.
"My dad says DiMaggio would come in and smoke a cigarette every inning," Deane said last night. "But Rizzo was nowhere around."
OUTER -SPACE PHANATICS: Homegrown Phillies fans working at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston send their "Go, Phils!" cheers to the Fightin's as the crucial World Series homestand is about to begin.
The phanatic group includes International Space Station flight controller Kevin Metrocavage from Shamokin, Northumberland County, who went to last year's World Series Game 4.
He was in the airport, wearing Phillies gear, headed back to Houston on the morning after monsoon-interrupted Game 5, when a fellow-fan, unable to attend the finale, offered his ticket to Game 5: Part Two for free as long as Metrocavage promised to return it afterwards.
"I guarded it like the Holy Grail," Metrocavage said. He saw the incredible World Series finish, then kept his promise.
Fellow flight controller Ken Neiss, of Chadds Ford, Delaware County, grew up listening to the late Harry Kalas.
"My craziest evening was trying to stay up for the Phillies-Padres doubleheader in July 1993, when constant rain delays had me finally falling asleep at 2 a.m. with my headphones on, early in the second game.
"I woke up in time to hear Mitch Williams' game-winning single in the 10th inning at around 4:40 AM!"
Now, THAT'S a Phillies fan!