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Remembering Yogi Berra

September 24, 2015

Yogi Berra, a great, great baseball player, who responded in the so called “clutch,” as few others ever have, died this week at the age of 90.

He played on ten World Series winning teams with the vaunted New York Yankees and was a big part of their incredible run of 14 pennants in 16 seasons (Al Lopez with two different franchises was the only non Yankees manager to win an AL pennant in that span) from (1949-1964).

In the 1964 season, Yogi guided the Yankees to a World Series appearance, losing in 7 games to the St. Louis Cardinals, one of two times in a ten season span, he managed a team that lost in #7 of the World Series (the Oakland A’s beat Berra’s Mets in the 1973 World Series), a fact omitted from reports on Berra’s death by both Bob Ley on ESPN and MLB Network.

After winning the 1964 flag and losing in the World Series, the Yankees fired Berra, replacing him with Johnny Keane, the Cards’ manager in the 1964 World Series. After firing Berra (at least he was told directly, more on that later), the Yankees who had won an incredible 29 American League Pennants in 44 seasons (1921-1964) did not win another until 1976 with Yogi as a coach.

Yogi Berra known for sayings he largely never said was an untapped treasure of baseball knowledge. My knowledge and love of baseball history is great and how great it would have been if someone like me or face it, me  had tapped into it.

I tried and did register some nice moments with the all time great, who was so modest.

More than once I cited his exploits in game 7 of the 1956 World Series and his retort was always about the great game Johnny Kucks pitched that day.

During the decisive game of the strike marred 1981 season’s NLCS, a nervous Dodgers fan who continued to root for them after they moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, suddenly had nightmares that Yogi Berra was playing for the Montreal Expos, the Dodgers opponent.

It did not take Doctor Freud to explain that one, as Yogi had delivered so often, breaking Brooklyn fans’ hearts. In the 1952 World Series, one of two the Dodgers had a chance to win at home in Brooklyn, Mr. Berra hit an all important game tying home runs in game six of a (3-2) Yankees’ win which forced a seventh game, they of course won.

He delivered so often vs Brooklyn and other teams.

 

Remember about Berra being told directly that he had been fired in 1964. That was not the case when George Steinbrenner fired him 16 games into the 1985 season.

Yogi, for 14 years give or take, kept his word about not going back to Yankee Stadium as long as Steinbrenner was the owner.

When he accepted Steinbrenner’s apology and went back, it made Yankees fans very happy as Berra was not only lovable, but beyond doubt, the greatest living Yankee at that point in time and until his death.

I still have hope there is a better place and if so Lawrence “Yogi” Berra will see beauty there. One example of truly beautiful would be his wife Carmen, who died three years ago.

She was a most wonderful, helpful person who appreciated my sincere praise as to how wonderful she looked and acted at an event at The Yogi Berra Museum.

What is most beautiful about Mr. Berra’s life is that he realized how fortunate he was to love Carmen and have his love returned. Then they went out each day and worked to sustain it and succeeded as few have.

That can also be said about Yogi Berra’s life.  I will “see” him again as I finish reading the 1989 book “Yogi” I am currently reading on which Berra collaborated with author Tom Horton. Additionally, visions of his amazing play and recollections of his charm will manifest  in my recalling and checking baseball history. He will always be one of  baseball’s greatest figures.

Yogi_Berra_May_1958

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