Farewell to Yogi
Yogi Berra: An icon to many on both sides of town
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK (SPORTS)- Prior to the first pitch at Citi Field Wednesday night the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves paused for a moment of silence in honor of Yogi Berra who passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 90. The Yankees, where Berra is most remembered for his Hall of Fame career as a player, coach, and manager will have a pre game tribute in the Bronx prior to their game Thursday evening against the White Sox.
And for those who recall, Berra was also a major part of history with the crosstown Mets as a player, coach, and manager. He is one of seven managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series. And will we ever see a player again appear in 21 World Series and win 13 titles?
Maybe not, because as much as there are the superstars in the sport today there may never be another Yogi Berra. He was that special breed of a ballplayer that comes around and it was also the passion on the field and off that also made him so loved and remembered.
And Number “8” is being remembered as an icon who was humble, humorous, and he had that attribute as possibly being the best catcher who played the game. The records speak volumes as an 18-time All-Star and a 10-time World Series champion as a player with a career batting average of .265.
And there is that distinction as the only manager to guide the Yankees and Mets to a seventh and deciding game of the World Series, and one of only five players to to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award three times. The Baseball Hall of Fame up in Cooperstown opened the doors to Berra in 1972.
A year later, Berra, as manager of the Mets took over a team that was not expected to take the mighty Oakland Athletics to that seventh and final game of the Fall Classic. Success seemed to follow Berra, and even the astute and loyal Yankees fans at that time jumped on the bandwagon.
So why would the arch rival fans of the Mets root for Yogi, who was now on the other side of town? One of his great slogans, and Berra had more than one that is classified as the best was: “It’s deja vu all over again.”
And it was the way Berra would conduct business by having an answer, many that are a part of baseball history and can be heard on a daily basis. It was Yogi Berra at his best, and put those slogans and statistics in one package and it did not get any better.
“I don’t think you will ever see a player have the success that Yogi had,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said prior to the Yankees-Blue Jays game up in Toronto Wednesday night. “The closest we have seen in sports today is Michael Jordan, is the six in eight years but it is not going to happen.”
Girardi added, “I always thought I was talking to my grandfather. I just felt comfortable. I almost felt like he was going to pull something out of his pocket like a piece of licorice and all that sort of thing. It was always a joy to be around him.”
There was more than Girardi looking at Berra as a grandfather type. There was that respect of knowing what it meant to be classified in the same category with Berra of Yankees history of being one of the managers who guided the organization to 27 world championships.
Berra was also the icon to those who work at the ballpark. From the ticket takers, to the ushers, and the vendors, Yogi Berra was always a Yankee but also a Met. The hollow ground of Yankee Stadium, and the magic of the Mets at Shea Stadium was also where some of the stadium workers saw Berra do his work as the player, coach and manager.
“He was a great Yankee, a great catcher and a great man,” said Stan. The longtime stadium usher of 54-years who saw Berra at Dodgers Stadium, the Polo Grounds, Shea and Yankee Stadium had a similar sentiment of loss when reflecting about the life of Yogi Berra.
“It’s hard to say that,” said Stan about being the best baseball catcher of all-time. There was Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk, and of course Gary Carter and Mike Piazza had their big moments in aa Mets uniform.
But “Certainly he was the best world series catcher of all-time,” Stan said with a smile. “He had a nice life, a wife (Carmen) of over 65 years with a woman he loved and cared for.”
But it was not difficult to say that Yogi Berra was an icon and he will be missed.
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