Yogi Berra, New York’s face of baseball and MLB Legend, passed away late on Tuesday night, September 22.
The man who once said: “Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical,” Yogi was known for his humorous quotes and antics. He was even believed to be the inspiration for the “Yogi Bear” Cartoons. But to the people of New York, and millions of baseball fans, he meant so much more than just silly quotes.
Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was one heck of a ball player. He had a career WAR of 59.5. From 1950 to 1956, he never failed to finish below fourth in American League MVP voting. Berra won the MVP in 1951, ‘54, and ‘55. An All-Star for 15 straight seasons, from ‘48-’62, Berra is tied for seventh most All-Star Appearances. Oh, and he won 10 World Series.
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Not as restricted by modern doctors, Yogi caught many more games a year than catchers do today. Starting when he was 25, Berra went seven seasons in a row catching at least 130 games. His incredible durability behind the plate and propensity for batting helped him finish quite high in the career stats for catchers.
He holds the record for most RBIs by a catcher with a whopping 1,430. He also sits fourth in all-time Home Runs, 358, and seventh in career games played, at 2,120.
Yogi Berra may have been one of the best players of his time, and had the most value for his team. He made just over a quarter of teammate Joe DiMaggio’s $100,000 in 1950. He won his first MVP the next year, being paid only $33,000.
Yogi didn’t care about the money, though. He just loved playing the game. “I'm a lucky guy, and I'm happy to be with the Yankees, and I want to thank you all for making this night necessary” said Berra, after losing a World Series to Joe Garagiola and his hometown St. Louis Cardinals.
That loss cost him his managing job with the Yankees, and his career was nearly over.
Retiring from playing in 1965, Berra didn’t wait long to have his name in Cooperstown. Yogi was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
The Missouri Native and Veteran of the U.S. Navy kept himself busy after retirement. He managed and coached until 1992 when he finished up with the Houston Astros.
Joe Torre, current Chief Baseball Officer of MLB, is one of the now 68 living members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Torre is well known for the great relationship he had with Yogi Berra. His friendship with Yogi grew very strong while he was managing the Yankees from 1996-2007.
“My 12 years in New York were very, very special, the fans were very special, and it's something I will take with me wherever I go and into retirement,” Torre said. “There’s only one New York.”
Yogi now joins the ranks of Ernie Banks and Tony Gwynn, both of whom passed away this year, and have left incredible legacies. Baseball will always remember his name and the words of wisdom he left us. As only Yogi could put it:
“It ain’t over till it’s over.”