By David Cruz
Whether he was blasting home runs, or pitching products on TV, Yogi Berra was a part of American pop culture for more than half a century.
Most people today remember the pop icon, but a quick look at the back of the baseball card reveals unparalleled professional success. Ten World Series titles including 75 World Series games played. Three-time league MVP and 15 all star appearances .
“He was extraordinary but at the same time he was extraordinary, but he was also the every man. He was down to earth,”said Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center Interim CEO Kevin Peters.
At the Yogi Berra Museum in Montclair, they came to lay flowers and share memories today, tributes to a man from humble beginnings in St. Louis who went on to serve his country as part of the D-Day invasion. He played minor league baseball with the Newark Bears and joined the Yankees in 1946, quickly becoming the heart of a team that dominated the sport.
“If he was a team, he would have the third most World Series championships. He has more World series championships than 28 teams. It’s unbelievable,” said a fan.
“Of course there’s the perfect game in the 1956 World Series when he jumped into Don Larsen’s arms on the mound after the perfect game,” said another.
Yogi went on to manage both New York baseball teams.
“I won a pennant with the Yankees and I won a pennant with the Mets,” said Yogi in an ad.
For reporters of a certain age, this 1973 scene of a fired-up Yogi will always best represent his baseball spirit, even if his tenure with the Mets wasn’t particularly long, or successful, for that matter.
Yogi was married to his beloved Carmen for 55 years. Their relationship was a critical part of his life. She died in 2014. By the time he turned 90, a few months ago, Yogi was in failing health, but he enjoyed being the center of a media scrum that would be the envy of any pro ballplayer today. His granddaughter Lindsay Berra spoke of the man behind the man behind the plate.
“I’ve been so lucky because he’s taught me so much about teamwork and respect and about being a good person and I really think that if everybody tried to be one one hundredth of the person that this man is, this world would really be a much better place,” said Lindsay.
“He was the average guy from the average neighborhood, growing up and he represented a lot of people in the United States,” said a fan.
“I just remember him always being very nice to everyone he met and very open, you know like, somebody you wouldn’t think was, like a celebrity. But he was just very kind and he passed that on to a lot of people,” said another.
As a ballplayer, Yogi Berra was tenacious and joyful and lived his life with a humble appreciation that was infectious. I will always remember him as a Met but, he belongs to all of us and, ultimately, to baseball, a sublime game that is now slightly diminished by his departure.