23 Sep 2015
You could argue that the worst and best things George Steinbrenner ever did as owner of the Yankees involved Yogi Berra. There was the absurd firing of him as manager just sixteen games into the 1985 season. And there was the rarest of Steinbrenner actions, an apology, that brought Yogi back to the Yankee fold in 1999.
And thank goodness for that, because Yogi was a unique gem in the pantheon of Yankee stars. He was certainly a great player. Over 2,000 hits, basically catching every day, ten World Series rings, 15-straight All-Star games, and the Hall of Fame. It is a shame the Yankees didn’t think enough of Bill Dickey in 1947 to give Yogi a different number than 8. Because of that mistake, Yogi is the only Yankee who shares a retired number.
And then there were the Yogisms. Everyone has a personal favorite and while “It’s ain’t over ’till it’s over” may be the most famous, my favorite is “Nobody goes there anymore because it is too crowded”.
But unlike some other Yankee legends, Berra was as good off the field as he was on it. He served his country at D-Day. He was married almost 65 years and was genuinely loved by all he encountered.
In the next few days the Yankees will undoubtedly have a tribute to Yogi as they should, but I hope they make sure that they wait until some key people can make it to the Stadium. Ron Guidry, Yogi’s spring training chauffeur, has to be there. Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have to be there too. And, it would be great to see Diana Munson as well.
And it should be a celebration of a life well lived. Because in the end, Yogi lived to be 90 and died universally loved. That’s as good as it gets.
UPDATE Very cool tweet by MLB’s Lindsay Berra, granddaughter of Yogi. Sorry so many people didn’t seem to get it.