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Yogi Berra

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#38, 35, 8 Yogi Berra
Yogi Berra image
New York Yankees
New York Mets - Catcher/Manager
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 5'7 Weight: 185 Ibs
Born on May 12, 1925, 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri
MLB Debut
September 22, 1946 for the New York Yankees
Picked no. in round of the draft by the .
Career Statistics
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As player
New York Yankees (1946-1963)
New York Mets (1965)
As manager
New York Yankees (1964)
New York Mets (1972–1975)
New York Yankees (1984–1985)
As coach
New York Mets (1965–1971)
New York Yankees (1976–1983)
Houston Astros (1986–1989)
Career Highlights and Awards
*18× All-Star (1948–1961², 1962²)

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (born May 12, 1925September 22, 2015), nicknamed "The Little Squat Man", from St. Louis, Mo., was a former catcher and manager in Major League Baseball. He played almost his entire career for the New York Yankees and was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. He was one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times, and one of only six managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series. Berra finished in the top 4 candidates for MVP 7 consecutive years (1950-1956) - a feat which was unmatched. Berra hit 20 or more home runs for 10 consecutive years (1949-1958) and also in 1961. He and [[Duke Snider} had 20 or more home runs in 9 of the 10 years of the 1950's (Snider had 15 in 1958). Only Gil Hodges hit 20 or more home runs in all 10 years of the 1950s. Berra, who quit school while attending the 8th grade, was also famous for his tendency toward malapropism and fracturing the English language in highly provocative, interesting ways. Berra, simultaneously denying and confirming his reputation, stated "I never said half the things I really said." (See Yogiisms.)

Early backgroundEdit

Born in St. Louis, Missouri in a primarily Italian neighborhood called "The Hill", Berra was the son of immigrants who originally nicknamed him Lawdie, derived from his mother Paulina's difficulty pronouncing Lawrence or Larry correctly. He grew up on Elizabeth Avenue, just a few doors down from his boyhood friend and later competitor Joe Garagiola (that block, also home to the late baseball broadcaster Jack Buck, has subsequently been renamed "Hall of Fame Place"). Berra has also been inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

He picked up his more famous nickname from a friend who said he resembled a Hindu holy man, a yogi, they had seen in a movie, whenever Berra sat around with arms and legs crossed waiting to bat, or while looking sad after losing a game. (Years later, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Yogi Bear was named after Berra, something Berra did not appreciate after he started being periodically addressed as "Yogi Bear."). Yogi Berra was affectionately known by the sportswriters as "The Little Squat Man".

He began playing baseball in local American Legion leagues, where he learned the basics of play as a catcher.

Baseball Hof
Yogi Berra
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

The St. Louis Cardinals spurned Berra in favor of his boyhood best friend, Joe Garagiola, in 1942. On the surface, the Cardinals seemed to think Garagiola the superior prospect -- but team president Branch Rickey actually had an ulterior motive: knowing he was soon to leave St. Louis to take over the operation of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and more impressed with Berra than he let on, Rickey apparently planned to hold Berra off until he could sign him for the Dodgers. The plan was ruined when the Yankees got to him first, signing him for the same $500 bonus the Cardinals offered Garagiola. Berra is widely regarded as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history. In two recent (2004) approaches by sabermetricians, Berra is ranked first among catchers by the Bill James Win Shares method and third by the Total Baseball Total Player Rating method. However, Berra is sometimes rated behind such greats as Johnny Bench, Mickey Cochrane, and Bill Dickey on the all time list due to their better defensive abilities.

Playing careerEdit

Following a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II where he served as a gunner's mate in the D-Day invasion, Berra played minor league baseball with the Newark Bears before being called up for seven games in the major leagues in 1946. The following season he played 86 games for the Yankees, and he would play more than a hundred in each of the following fourteen years.

During his nineteen-year career as a Yankee, Berra's teams dominated baseball. Berra appeared in fourteen World Series, winning ten championships, both of which are records. Because Berra's playing career coincided with the Yankees' most consistent period, it enabled him to establish the major league records for World Series games (75), at-bats (259), hits (71), doubles (10), singles (49), games caught (63), and catcher putouts (457). Berra also hit the first pinch-hit home run ever hit in World Series play in Game 3 of the 1947 Series vs. Ralph Branca of the Dodgers (while batting for Sherman Lollar) - he was the pitcher who threw up Bobby Thomson's famous Playoff-winning home run in 1951.

Berra has become a beloved, cuddly figure in American sport, which in some ways has obscured his immense talents as a competitive athlete. Berra was a fifteen-time All-Star, and won the league's MVP award three times, in 1951, 1954 and 1955. He received MVP votes in fifteen consecutive seasons, tied with Barry Bonds and second only to Hank Aaron's nineteen straight seasons with MVP support. (Ted Williams also received MVP votes in every year of his career, but it was twice interrupted by military service.) Between 1949 and 1955, on a team filled with stars such as Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, it was Berra who led the Yankees in RBI for seven consecutive seasons.

Berra was an expert at hitting bad pitches, covering all areas of the strike zone (as well as beyond) with great extension. He was simultaneously able to swing the bat like a golf club to hit low pitches for deep home runs, and chop at high pitches for line drives. However, despite this wide plate coverage, he also had great bat control. Five times, Berra had more home runs in a season than strikeouts. In 1950, Berra struck out twelve times in 597 at-bats. This combination made him a feared "clutch hitter"; rival manager Paul Richards once called Berra "the toughest man in the league in the last three innings."

As a fielder, Berra was truly outstanding. Quick, mobile, and a great handler of pitchers, Berra led all American League catchers eight times in games caught and in chances accepted, six times in double plays (a major league record), eight times in putouts, three times in assists, and once in fielding percentage. Berra left the game with the AL records for catcher putouts (8,723) and chances accepted (9,520)). He was also one of only four catchers to ever field 1.000 for a season, in 1958. Later in his career, he became a good defensive outfielder in Yankee Stadium's notoriously difficult left field. In 1962, at the age of 37, he showed his superb physical endurance by catching an entire 22-inning, seven- hour game against the Tigers.

One of the most notable days of Berra's playing career came when he caught Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, the only no-hitter ever thrown in postseason play. The pictures of Berra leaping into Larsen's arms following the 27th out are among the game's most memorable images.

On 18 July, 1999, Larsen and Berra celebrated the feat with a ceremonial pitch for "Yogi Berra Day" at Yankee Stadium (the 74-year-old Berra did not jump into the 70-year-old Larsen's arms, though). This was a part of the celebration to mark the return of Berra to the Stadium, which ended his 14-year feud with Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner. The feud started in 1985 when Steinbrenner promised Berra a full chance as manager, then fired him in the third week of the season. Berra vowed to never return to Yankee Stadium so long as Steinbrenner owned the team. Amazingly, Yankees pitcher David Cone then hurled his own perfect game against Montreal Expos, only the 16th time it had ever been done in Major League history. The coincidence served to illustrate one of the more famous Yogiisms – "It's like deja vu all over again". On 23 February 2007, Berra and Larsen are due to guest of honour at a commemorative function to be held at the Yogi Berra Museum [1]. The evening will feature dinner and a screening of Larsen's World Series perfect game.

In 1946, Berra wore uniform No. 38 on the Yankees, switching to 35 the next year. In 1948, he changed to No. 8, which became well-known as his number for the rest of his career on the Yankees and Mets. The No. 8 was retired in 1972 by the Yankees, jointly honoring Berra and Bill Dickey, his predecessor as the Yankees' star catcher. Berra's uniform number and stocky build were familiar enough to baseball fans that Sports Illustrated once used a photo of Berra facing away from the camera as its cover, with the blurb "YOGI'S BACK."

Managing careerEdit

After Berra's Yankee playing career ended with the 1963 World Series, he was hired as the manager of the New York Yankees. Much was made of an incident on board the team bus in August. Following a loss, infielder Phil Linz was playing his harmonica, and Berra ordered him to stop. Seated on the other end of the bus, Linz couldn't hear what Berra had said, and Mickey Mantle impishly informed Linz, "He said to play it louder." When Linz did so, an angry Berra slapped the harmonica out his hands. All was apparently forgotten when Berra's Yankees rode a September surge to return to the World Series. But the team lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, after which Berra was fired. It was later written that general manager Ralph Houk had been ready to discharge Berra since midseason, apparently for a perceived loss of control over the team.

Berra made a very brief return to the field as a player-coach for the crosstown Mets, playing in just four games. His last at-bat came on May 9, 1965, just three days shy of his 40th birthday. Berra stayed with the Mets as a coach for the next eight seasons, becoming the team's manager in 1972. That same year, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The following year, his Mets won the NL East division despite winning just 82 games, and eventually lost that year's World Series in seven games. Berra remained the team's manager for two more seasons. In 1976, he rejoined the Yankees as a coach. The team won its first of three consecutive AL titles, and (as had been the case throughout his playing days) Berra was regarded as a lucky charm. Berra was eventually elevated to Yankee manager before the 1984 season. Berra agreed to stay in the job for 1985 after receiving assurances that he would not be fired, but the impatient Steinbrenner did fire Berra after the 16th game of the season. This caused a rift between the two men that would not be mended for almost 15 years.

On August 22, 1988, Berra and Dickey were honored with plaques to be hung in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Berra's plaque calls him "A legendary Yankee" and cites his most frequent quote, "It ain't over till it's over." In 1999, he placed No. 40 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and fan balloting elected him to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.


Berra died of natural causes during his sleep at an assisted-living facility in West Caldwell, New Jersey, on September 22, 2015, at the age of 90—the same day as his MLB debut 69 years earlier.

Coaching and Managing careerEdit

  • 1963 – New York Yankees player-coach
  • 1964 – New York Yankees manager (won American League pennant)
  • 1965–1972 – New York Mets coach
  • 1972–1975 – New York Mets manager (won National League pennant in 1973)
  • 1976–1983 – New York Yankees coach
  • 1984–1985 – New York Yankees manager
  • 1986–1989 – Houston Astros coach

Career statisticsEdit

2,120 7,555 1,175 2,150 321 49 358 1,430 30 704 .285 .348 .482 3,643 9 52

Non-Baseball ActivitiesEdit

Berra married his wife Carmen in 1949. They have three children and have lived in Montclair, New Jersey since Berra's playing days. Two of Berra's sons also played professional sports - his son Dale Berra played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros and his son Tim Berra played American football for the New York Jets.

In 1998, The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center [2] and Yogi Berra Stadium (home to the New Jersey Jackals baseball team) opened on the campus of Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, N.J. The Museum is currently the home of various collector's items, including the mitt with which Yogi caught the only perfect game in World Series history, several autographed and "game-used" items, three World Series Championship trophies, and all of Yogi's championship rings. It was an appearance on behalf of the Museum by George Steinbrenner that led to their ultimate reconciliation. Berra is very involved with the project and frequents the museum for signings, discussions, and other events. It is his vision to teach children important values such as sportsmanship and dedication both on and off the field of play. When asked "So, what is it you do here?" Yogi, without missing a beat, replied convincingly, "It's my museum."

Berra is a recipient of the Boy Scouts of America's highest adult award, the Silver Buffalo Award.

In February 2005 Berra filed a lawsuit against Turner Broadcasting System. He alleges that they used his name in a racy advertisement for Sex and the City. The advertisement asks what the definition of a "yogasm" is: a) a type of yo-yo trick; (b) sex with Yogi Berra; or c) what Samantha has with a guy from yoga class. (The answer given was C.) This case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of money.

Berra has frequently appeared in advertisements for Yoo-hoo, AFLAC, Entenmann's, and Stovetop stuffing, among others, frequently demonstrating his famous "yogiisms." He is probably the longest running commercial pitchman in the US, his television commercials spanning the early 1950s to the present day. Based on his style of speaking, Yogi was named Wisest Fool of the Past 50 Years by the Economist magazine in January 2005.


Main article: Yogiisms

Yogi Berra is famous around the non-baseball world for his pithy comments and witticisms. Many of these are in the vein of the gravedigger in Shakespeare's Hamlet, the comments of a worldly-wise philosopher who does not have the education and vocabulary to express his thoughts accurately. These quotes are often called Yogiisms and are the subject of a further article. These are examples:

  • "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded!"
  • "It ain't over till it's over." - After Berra's 1973 Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs by 9½ games in the National League East; the Mets rallied to win the division title on the next-to-last day of the season.
  • "I don't know if it's good for baseball, but it sure beats the hell out of rooming with Phil Rizzuto." – on hearing team-mate Joe DiMaggio was to marry Marilyn Monroe


Four books by Yogi Berra (with co-authors):

  • ISBN 0-07-096947-7; (April 1989) Yogi: It Ain't Over
  • ISBN 0-7611-1090-9; (April 1998) The Yogi Book: 'I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said'
  • ISBN 0-7868-6775-2; (May 2001) When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It! Inspiration and Wisdom from One of Baseball's Greatest Heroes
  • ISBN 0-7432-3768-4; (October 2002) What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


Preceded by:
Ralph Houk
New York Yankees Manager
Succeeded by:
Johnny Keane
Preceded by:
Gil Hodges
New York Mets Manager
Succeeded by:
Roy McMillan
Preceded by:
Billy Martin
New York Yankees Manager
Succeeded by:
Billy Martin
Preceded by:
Phil Rizzuto
American League Most Valuable Player
Succeeded by:
Bobby Shantz
Preceded by:
Al Rosen
American League Most Valuable Player
Succeeded by:
Mickey Mantle
Major League Baseball | MLB All-Century Team

Nolan Ryan | Sandy Koufax | Cy Young | Roger Clemens | Bob Gibson | Walter Johnson | Warren Spahn | Christy Mathewson | Lefty Grove
Johnny Bench | Yogi Berra | Lou Gehrig | Mark McGwire | Jackie Robinson | Rogers Hornsby | Mike Schmidt | Brooks Robinson | Cal Ripken, Jr. | Ernie Banks | Honus Wagner
Babe Ruth | Hank Aaron | Ted Williams | Willie Mays | Joe DiMaggio | Mickey Mantle | Ty Cobb | Ken Griffey, Jr. | Pete Rose | Stan Musial

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