Article by Andrea Martin. Media by Katie Wallace. [divide]
“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Yogi Berra passed away Tuesday night at the age of 90,” the Yogi Berra Museum said. An outpouring of love and admiration has since spread from many MLB teams, current and former players, and many fans alike.
Known for his quick wit and funny, yet confusing, play on words, Berra joined the Yankees in 1946 where he established himself as a solid catcher with an unbelievable love for the game that made him a national hero and sports icon. From 1946 to 1963, Berra won a record 10 World Series championships with the Yankees, was voted to 18 All-stars, and is one of only four players to have won the Most Valuable Player award three times. In 1972, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is widely considered one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game.
Besides his outright talents on the diamond, Berra represented an intellectual sense of humor where his play on his words often became paradoxical, leaving reporters, managers and fans in the wind to grasp the true meaning behind his quotes.
“You can observe a lot just by watching,” he is quoted to have said once, describing his strategy as a manager.
When asked about directions to his house, Berra simply replied, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
But Berra’s most widely recognized and used quote is easily put as this:
“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
Much speculation had arisen over whether Berra himself said such quotes; in 1998, he published a book titled “The Yogi Book: I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said!” The book was full of “Yogi-isms,” as some fans put it, but that’s what defined Yogi Berra. The comical, down-to-earth persona gave a glimpse of the true nature of the man behind the catcher’s mask.
From the beginning, Berra became a likeable figure in the sports world, sometimes to the point where his personality and wit overshadowed the very talent that made him one of the greatest players to ever walk the earth. Known as “bad ball” hitter – he swung at a lot of pitches that were not strikes but mashed them anyway – he was fearless in the clutch and one of the most consistent and durable players during the Yankees’ golden years of success.
Berra’s career batting average stands at .285, not quite as high as his predecessor Bill Dickey who had a whopping .313 average, but Berra had more home runs (358) and drove-in more runs (1,430). Known for his command behind the plate, Berra led the American League in assists five times, and from 1957 to 1959 went 148 consecutive games as a starting catcher without making an error, a major league record at the time. As great as a catch as he was, he was not known for his defensive skills, but claimed that Dickey “learned me all his experience.”
The baseball world has certainly lost an enduring figure that changed the face of the sport forever. The world loved Yogi, and Yogi loved it back. There never seemed to be a moment where that love was strained, nor did it ever seem to diminish. No one could probably tell you that his name was really Lawrence Peter Berra; Yogi was simply a childhood nickname. But even then, no last name was needed.
Video from ESPN First Take