New York Yankees: Legendary Catcher Yogi Berra dies at 90


This morning began like any other morning for me. I woke up, used the restroom, brushed my teeth, and began getting ready for another work week. Nothing felt particularly off this morning. I mean, sure, I was tired, but that is no different than any other day. Waking up at 5:40 am every day will do that to you.

I typically watch SportsCenter every morning. Only this time, I was watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I’m a very young, 29). At about 6:18 am (better known as four minutes before I leave for work) I changed the channel to ESPN. At that time, ESPN ran an overnight breaking news line through the bottom of the screen. I can’t tell you what it said exactly, but it crushed me all the same. Yogi Berra, dead at 90.

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To make things clear, the world isn’t mourning arguably the greatest catcher in the history of the game. The world is mourning one of the kindest individuals the sports world has ever known.

The family has since released a statement through the Yogi Berra Museum.

“While we mourn the loss of our father, grandfather and great-grandfather, we know he is at peace with Mom, said his family. “We celebrate his remarkable life, and are thankful he meant so much to so many. He will truly be missed.”

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was born on May 12, 1925 in an Italian neighborhood in St. Louis called “The Hill.” At the age of 17, Berra and his friend, Joe Garagiola, both tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals, who at the time were managed by Branch Rickey. This was the same Branch Rickey who signed Jackie Robinson in 1945. Things didn’t work out for Berra, though. His friend was signed, but Berra refused to sign for half the signing bonus given to Garagiola. Berra wound up signing with the New York Yankees for the same $500 signing bonus given to Garagiola.

The rest, as they say, is history.

A career .285 batting average. 358 homeruns. 1,430 runs batted in. An 18-time All-Star. A 3-time Most Valuable Player. 10-time World Series Champion as a player. A man whose #8 jersey is retired by the New York Yankees. A second ballot Hall-of-Famer. It is, indeed, a crime that he didn’t go in on the first ballot.

Baseball players everywhere have adopted Berra’s playing style, particularly his knack for hitting “bad balls.” Berra was Vladimir Guerrero before there was ever a Vladimir Guerrero. Berra would cover areas of the plate that other hitters couldn’t dream of covering. Do you want to pitch him way outside? No problem, he’ll reach it. Do you want to jam him inside? No way will he let you get away with that.

In 19 years and over 7,000 regular season plate appearances, Berra only struck out 414 times and never more than 38 times in a single season. An unheard-of statistic for a power hitter of his caliber. During one complete regular season, Berra struck out only 12 times. To put things into perspective, there were five seasons in which Berra homered more than he struck out. There was a sixth season in which his homerun and strikeout totals were equal. How many hitters can brag about that?

But that legend his now gone, and we are left to mourn the passing of an icon, both on the field and off of it.

No matter who you are, friend or foe, there was no denying the impact that Berra made. Reading the following tweets will give you an idea of what he meant to the sports world.

The love he had for the game and those around it was transparent. Yogi’s love was contagious, as well. Those around him couldn’t help but smile when he was around. And he had such a sense of humor, according to Brian Costello, a New York Jets beat writer for the New York Post.

That was Yogi, a man that had fun no matter what he was doing. Yogi did everything at his pace and on his terms. He made his MLB debut on September 22, 1946. He died 69 years later on September 22, 2015. His timing, even at an advanced age, never failed him.

Yogi Berra, in one of his famous sayings that are now known as “Yogi-isms,” once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Yogi has reached his fork in the road. He took it. Thanks for the memories, Yogi. God bless you and may you rest in peace.

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