By Michaela Shaffer
On Sept. 22, American legend Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra passed away at the age of 90. Berra played for the New York Yankees and was the proud owner of an astounding 10 World Series rings. Despite playing for the world-renowned Yankees, Berra was perhaps best known for his Yogi-isms which provided many laughs for his family, friends, and fans. From “It’s like deja vu all over again” to “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” Berra was full of hilarious malapropisms. Despite his short stature, Yogi Berra was a larger-than-life character who will be forever remembered as not only a baseball great, but also as an American legend.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Berra was the son of hardworking Italian immigrants. From a young age, Yogi and his brothers were avid athletes. Dropping out of school in eighth grade in order to financially assist his family, Berra chose to focus on baseball. After turning down a deal with his hometown Cardinals, Berra went on to sign with the New York Yankees.
Before cementing himself as the reliable backstop for the Yankees, Berra served his country during World War II in the U.S. Navy. Few realize the contributions Yogi made for his country prior to his record-setting baseball career. At 19, he landed at Normandy and helped his crew fight the Germans at Omaha Beach. He was later honored for his contributions to the war effort.
After returning from war, Yogi started a career with the Yankees that would span almost 20 years. Despite being only 5 foot, 8 inches and 185 pounds, Berra was a force to be reckoned with. During his tenure with the Yankees, Berra won his famous 10 rings in 14 postseason appearances. He won the American League Most Valuable Player Award an incredible three times. Berra played in 15 successive All-Star games and caught at least 100 games every year for 10 seasons. Yogi Berra was the definition of durability and grit, and many argue that he is the greatest catcher of all-time. Berra was inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 1972.
After his playing career ended, Berra went on to manage both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets as one of only seven managers to lead teams in both the American and National leagues to pennants. Even after he retired from coaching, he continued to be an active voice in baseball. From mentoring players such as a young Derek Jeter to attending baseball-related events, Berra was an effervescent light in the baseball scene who never seemed to disappoint his fans.
After losing his wife of 65 years in early 2014, Berra cut back on his traveling and public appearances. He could often be found in his beloved Yogi Berra museum in Montclair, N.J., which pays tribute to his wonderful life. While the world of baseball has lost one of its brightest lights, fans can be certain that Berra will never be forgotten. From his dedication to his country to his success as the Yankees backstop to his entertaining Yogi-isms, Berra was the quintessential American icon. He once famously said “It ain’t over till it’s over,” and even though Yogi Berra is gone, his memory will live on long into the future.