"“The future ain’t what it used to be.”-Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra"
was a fixture on the New York Yankees’ roster for 18 seasons. He is possibly the best catcher in the history of Major League Baseball, winning three Most Valuable Player Awards in his career. He has won more World Series Championships (10) than any other player in the game’s history. Berra managed both the Yankees (Twice!) and the New York Mets after he retired and is still idolized today by fans young and old. He is a veteran of World War II, serving his country on the beaches of Normandy by piloting a rocket launching boat on D-Day. He is a comic and a philosopher all at once. Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was many things but above all he was a New York Yankee legend.
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Berra’s early career was riddled with question marks. There were questions about his ability to catch and he often played other positions like left field while another player served as the backstop. But after the Yankees called in Yogi’s predecessor, , to help him hone his skills behind the plate. Dickey’s tutelage proved to be exactly what Berra needed and from there his career took off. Over the course of his 19-year career, Yogi would post a lifetime batting average of .285, hit 358 home runs, win three MVP awards, play in 15 All-Star Games and win an incredible 10 World Series Championships during the Yankees’ unprecedented run from the late 40’s to early 60’s.
The Yankee legend’s terrific play is only paralleled by his marvelous way of speaking. His “Yogisms” are world famous and to this day they are spoken everywhere.
"“It’s like deja-vu all over again”“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical”“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded”“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”“It ain’t over till it’s over”"
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Yogi had a million of them. Over the years there have been books filled with his colorful aphorisms. Comical and philosophical all at once Berra’s phrases reminded many of his manager whose way of speaking was a language all in it’s own (Stengelese). But, Berra’s combination of superb play and lively personality made him a fan favorite. Yogi’s number “8” is retired by the Yankees and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972. Although he spent 1965 with the Mets in an attempt to make a comeback he’ll always be remembered as a Yankee, beloved by those young and old.
Excuse me while I speak personally for a moment. I, of course, am not old enough to have ever seen Yogi play in person. I did, however, have the pleasure of spending many years with someone who did. My grandfather, who passed away before the end of this past summer, was a very big fan of the great catcher and we often talked about him together. I would often ask “Gramps, who was the best junk ball hitter of all-time?”. Without fail he would answer with “Yogi”. To be honest I was never entirely sure what it meant but I enjoyed asking him every now and then. Berra was one of his favorite players and it’s obvious why. My grandfather was a great character and had his own share of odd quotes much like Berra. My grandpa is gone now but I’ll always remember how we bonded over the Yankees’ and the great player that was Yogi Berra.