Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra dies at the age of 90.
UNITED STATES (FILE) (NBC) – Yogi Berra, a Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees whose mangled syntax made him one of the sports world’s most beloved and frequently quoted figures, died on Tuesday (September 22) at the age of 90, Major League Baseball said.
“We mourn the passing of Yankees icon and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra,” MLB said in a tweet.
The Yankees said in a tribute on Twitter: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of a Yankees legend and American hero.”
Lawrence Peter Berra, known to the world as Yogi, was a tough catcher and a feared clutch hitter who helped the Yankees dominate baseball from 1947 to 1963.
On a team packed with great players like Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, Berra led the Yankees in runs batted in for seven consecutive seasons.
He won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award three times in the 1950s, was a 15-time All Star and entered baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1972.
After retiring as a player, Berra became one of only six managers to lead separate American and National League teams to the World Series.
Berra’s baseball accomplishments were sometimes overshadowed by his linguistic shortcomings. His “Yogi-isms” were repeated by presidents, Wall Street titans, comedians and anyone else who wanted to sound wise, funny, folksy — or all three: “It ain’t over until it’s over.” “The future ain’t what it used to be.” “It gets late early out here.” “No one goes to that bar anymore; it’s always too crowded.”
“I don’t know why I say these things,” he once told Reuters in an interview. “But people understand me.”
At the Vatican, Berra greeted Pope John XXIII by saying “Hello, pope.” The pope replied: “Hello, Yogi.”
Berra also appeared as himself in TV ads that played on his tangled expressions to sell everything from insurance to a global credit card to the Yoo-hoo chocolate drink.
Berra was born May 12, 1925, in St. Louis, the son of poor Italian immigrants, and grew up in the city’s “Hill” Italian section. He quit school to help his family during the Depression and played baseball in local leagues.
He often told the story of a friend who said he resembled a Hindu holy man, or yogi, whenever he sat around with arms and legs crossed waiting to bat, and the name stuck.
The Yankees signed Berra for $500 in 1942 and assigned him to the team’s minor league affiliates. He later enlisted in the Navy and was a gunner’s mate in the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. After the war he became a Yankee regular by 1947.
His career coincided with a period of Yankees dominance, and he appeared in 14 World Series. He won 10 championships and established records for World Series games in at bats, hits, doubles, singles and games caught.
Berra was the catcher in one of the greatest games in baseball history, Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
He later managed both the Yankees and their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, to World Series appearances.
In 1999 he was included in a list of the 100 greatest baseball players compiled by The Sporting News, and fans voted him onto baseball’s All-Century team.
Berra was married to Carmen Berra from 1949 until her death in 2014. They had three sons, one of whom, Dale, played in the major leagues.