The last of the great New York Yankee legends passed away late Tuesday night leaving behind an insurmountable amount of success, memories and quotes.
By Jeff Weisinger
“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” Now, sadly enough, it’s over.
Baseball Hall of Famer and New York Yankee legend Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra passed away at the age of 90 late Tuesday night due to natural causes at an assisted living facility in New Jersey. He died exactly 69 years to the date of his big league debut with the Yankees.
There is without a doubt that Berra is an icon throughout all generations, from the baby boomers though now and is as famous around the world as the Yankees interlocking “NY” logo and pinstripes are.
“Yogi Berra’s legacy transcends baseball,” Yanks owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement Wednesday morning. “Though slight in stature, he was a giant in the most significant of ways through his service to his country, compassion for others and genuine enthusiasm for the game he loved. He has always been a role model and hero that America could look up to.”
Berra is without a doubt one of the most successful Yankees, let alone baseball players the game has ever seen. In his 19 year career in the majors, he hit .285 with 358 home runs with 1,430 RBI. While those stats may not stand out, Berra won 10 World Series in 14 trips to the Fall Classic throughout his career, a 15-time All-Star, participating in the mid-summer classic every year from 1947-1962, a three-time American League MVP who also finished in the top-four of the MVP voting four other times.
Berra’s 10 World Series rings includes his time behind the plate as the catcher of the Yankees teams of the late 40’s and early 50’s that won five World Series in a row from 1949-1953 — three times against the Brooklyn Dodgers, once against the New York Giants and once against the Philadelphia Phillies. He hit .274 in 75 World Series games with 12 homers and 39 RBI in the postseason.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tlt_fOVrfU?rel=0]
“To those who didn’t know Yogi personally, he was one of the greatest baseball players and Yankees of all time,” retired Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter wrote on The Players’ Tribune. “To those lucky ones who did, he was an even better person.”
Berra also spent time as a manager in the Big Apple, recording a combined 484-444 record in seven years between the Yankees and the Mets. He led the Mets to the 1973 World Series, where they lost in seven games to the Oakland Athletics, the first of the A’s four titles.
“Yogi Berra was a baseball legend who played a key part in our history,” the Mets said in a statement Wednesday. “He was kind, compassionate and always found a way to make people laugh. With us he was a player, coach and managed the 1973 ‘Ya Gotta Believe’ team to the National League pennant. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 23, 2015
His managerial career was shortened, and his post-Yankee career is overshadowed by the time George Steinbrenner sent an aide to tell Berra that he was fired just 16 games into the 1985 season as the Yanks started 6-10.
From that point, Berra started his 14-year exile from Yankee Stadium. He coached the Astros from 1986-89, the only non-New York team he was affiliated with in his lifetime, looking odd in the old “colorful” Astros uniforms. It took Yankees broadcaster Suzyn Waldman to help get Steinbrenner and Berra to reconcile. The Yankees celebrated his return to the Bronx on July 18, 1999 as Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium attracted nearly 42,000 to witness his reunion with his old teammates and Yankee greats like Phil Rizzuto, Whitey Ford and Don Larsen (the owner of the only perfect game in World Series history, which Berra caught). As fate would have it, David Cone would toss a perfect game on that day as the Yanks went on to win the second of their three-straight World Series title from 1998-2000.
“Nothing bad happens when Yogi Berra is around,” then-Yankee manager and new Hall of Famer Joe Torre said that day.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-EZf56AfYc?rel=0]
However, while Berra’s on-the-field achievements were well-documented, he is probably known even better for his sharp wit and infamous quotations, most of which fracture the English language, yet somehow still work once you read it the fifth time.
The truth is that despite the fact that a lot of us never saw Yogi play first-hand, let alone probably met him in person, Yogi Berra stood tall in a game where’s he’s one of the shortest. His 10 World Series titles are the most of any player in baseball history, however his personality and every infamous broken quote is what will stick with everyone.
He reminded us all that “baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical,” and that “a nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
As his funeral arrangements are being made, let’s leave with one final, fitting “Yogi-ism”: “Always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise, they won’t come to yours.”[su_button url=”https://elitesportsny.com/2015/09/21/new-york-jets-improve-to-2-0-with-statement-against-colts/” target=”blank” background=”#000080″ size=”10″ wide=”yes” radius=”0″]NEXT: Jets Make Statement Against Colts[/su_button]