“It ain’t over til it’s over” – It was one of the many legendary phrases coined by Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, who in 1973 was then-manager of the New York Mets. Halfway through the regular season, his team was in last place. The Chicago Cubs held a 7 1/2 game lead in the National League East, and the Mets’ season appeared to be finished. However under Berra’s unorthodox leadership, the Mets rallied to win the division and finish the season with an 82-79 record. Although Berra’s legacy will always be remembered in pinstripes, his outright confidence for his 1973 Mets truly defined this New York legend.
Yogi Berra passed away on Tuesday, September 22nd in West Caldwell, New Jersey. He was 90 years old. Coincidentally, it was the 69th year anniversary of his debut in Major League Baseball. The Yogi Berra Museum’s Twitter page was the first to break the news early Wednesday morning:
“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Yogi Berra
passed away Tuesday night at the age of 90. #YogiBerra”
Not only did baseball lose an icon of the sport, but the United States lost a war hero. After signing with the New York Yankees in 1942, Berra put his baseball aspirations on hold to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Four years later, Berra would receive his big league call-up on September 22nd, 1946. Over his illustrious nineteen-year playing career, Berra batted .285 by tallying 2,150 hits – 358 were homeruns. Between 1948 and 1962, Berra was a stable at the All-Star Game having been selected 18 times. Berra also racked in three American League MVP awards (1951, 1954, 1955). His record 10 World Series Championships (as a player) is his most remarkable accomplishment. Berra would earn three more rings as a coach.
In 1972, Berra was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The New York Yankees would retire the #8 to honor both Berra and his mentor and fellow Hall of Fame catcher, Bill Dickey. In 1998, the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center opened its doors in Montclair, New Jersey with a mission “to preserve and promote the values of respect, sportsmanship, social justice, and excellence through inclusive, culturally diverse sports-based educational programs and exhibits.”
The life and career of Yogi Berra will be remembered forever. From the Yogi-isms to catching Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Berra is one of baseball’s unforgotten treasures. He embodies how sacrifice can lead to success, thus serving as a model for aspiring young athletes.
R.I.P. Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra