MLB History: A Look Back at Yogi Berra (1925-2015)

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As spring training continues in preparation for the 2021 MLB season, it’s time to take a look back into MLB history at the baseball career of Lawrence Peter Berra, otherwise known as Yogi Berra. Yogi Berra played in MLB for nineteen seasons (1946-1963, 1965), mostly with the Yankees, and he was also a manager for seven seasons (1964, 1972-1975, 1984-1985) with the Mets and the Yankees. 

Berra’s career in MLB history was decorated with awards and achievements, as he earned eighteen all-star selections, three most valuable player awards (and ten world series victories with the Yankees. Also, Yogi Berra’s career in MLB history had a career batting average of .285 with 358 home runs and 1,430 RBIs.

Yogi Berra is arguably the best catcher in the history of major league baseball, and he was elected to the baseball hall of fame in 1972. 

Berra, a Saint Louis native, started his career with the New York Yankees in 1943 after serving in World War Two. He spent three years preparing for the major leagues until he was called up in 1946 at the age of twenty-one. From there, the rest is history, as Berra was an integral piece of the ten world series wins that the Yankees had from 1946-1963. Even though Berra was rather short at five feet and seven inches, he was a powerful hitter (as evidenced by his 358 career home runs) and a great defensive catcher. 

After his eighteen seasons with the Yankees, including managing the team in 1964 and obtaining a 99-63 record, Yogi Berra joined the New York Mets as a manager and a player for a very short amount of time during the 1965 major league baseball season. From there, he became the manager of the Mets for the 1972-1975 seasons, with his best season coming in 1973. In 1973, Berra led the team to the NL pennant where they fell short against the Oakland Athletics in a seven-game series.

MLB History: Yogi-isms

One thing that Yogi Berra was very famous for was his malapropisms, or “yogi-isms.” Some examples include when he said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” The context of this quotation was that the Mets were behind the Chicago Cubs by nine and a half games in the national league east standings in July of 1973, the year that the Mets would eventually go on to win the national league pennant. 

Another quote that Berra is famous for comes from when he said, “ninety percent of baseball is mental; the other half is physical.” This quotation obviously does not make sense mathematically, as that adds up to 140%, but it emphasizes the mental and physical strength that was required from professional baseball players. 

Honoring Yogi Berra

Overall, Berra’s impact as a player and a manager was profound, as he appeared as a player, coach, or manager in every one of the thirteen World Series that New York baseball teams won from 1947 through 1981. Berra’s number eight was later retired by the New York Yankees in 1972, and he was voted as part of the Major League Baseball All-Century team in 1999. 

Yogi Berra died in September of 2015 in West Caldwell, New Jersey at the age of ninety. To honor his legacy, the Empire State Building was lit with blue and white Yankee pinstripes on September 23, the next day. Also, several MLB teams decided to hold a moment of silence to honor the great baseball career of Yogi Berra. 

Finally, United States President Barack Obama awarded the presidential medal of freedom to Berra on November 24, 2015. At the ceremony, President Barack Obama said, “Today we celebrate some extraordinary people – Innovators, artists, and leaders who contribute to America’s strength as a nation.” Then, Obama referenced one of Berra’s famous Yogiisms, saying, “One thing we know for sure – If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”

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