Yogi Berra died on September 22, 2015, at the age of 90. He was a great catcher and quite a character. We’ll miss you Yogi!
Yogi Berra on His Way to the Majors
Yogi Berra has gone down in history as one of the greatest Major League Baseball players of all times. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, his strategies for playing and his raw talent are still widely admired. He was a catcher for the New York Yankees during his entire career, which spanned 19 years. For 15 of his years in the MLB, he was an All Star. He also won the Most Valuable Player award for the American League three times, making him one of only four baseball players in history to do that. After his stint as a player, he went on to become the manager of his former team, which only confirmed his incredible gift for baseball.
Making His Way to the Majors
While Berra was a brilliant and incredibly gifted baseball player, his road to get to the major leagues was anything but easy. Born to Italian immigrants in St. Louis, Missouri, Berra dropped out of school after eighth grade. After his school days were over, he began to play baseball in the local American Legion teams. It was here that he learned the basics of catching, playing various positions on the field, and batting, all of which would later earn him a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
While still playing for a few American Legion teams, Berra joined a team from Cranston, Rhode Island. Unfortunately he was not able to use his real name for this, so he decided to choose a new on. When he had been playing on the American Legion teams, a friend had given him the nickname Yogi, claiming that Berra looked like a Hindu yogi when he sat, poised to catch.
Minor League Baseball: A Stepping Stone to the Majors
Berra was first up for signing into the major leagues in 1942 at the age of 17. He would have been signed to the St. Louis Cardinals, but the president of the team chose to sign Joe Garagiola, a boyhood friend of Berra’s, instead. The president, Branch Rickey, has since claimed that he was incredibly impressed Berra. Knowing that Rickey would be leaving St. Louis soon to take a position with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he decided to sign Garagiola to the Cardinals, and wait to sign the more talented player to the Dodgers.
While this may have been a brilliant idea on his part, it did not work out. Given Berra’s incredible talent, he was quickly signed by the New York Yankees. Having offered him the same sign-on bonus that the Cardinals had offered to Garagiola, the Yankees quickly put him to work. His first work in the professional baseball world was for the Class B Piedmont League for the Norfolk Tars. Here, he had his first notable accomplishment: driving 23 runs in the midst of a doubleheader.
After playing for the Norfolk Tars for a short time, Berra served with the U.S. Navy in World War II. Upon his return to civilian life, he played for the Newark Bears. During his time with Bears, he was mentored by Bill Dickey, who was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Inspired by his time under his mentoring, Berra later took Dickey’s number as his own.
The Major Leagues: A Legend is Born
When Berra made it to the major leagues, his unique style of playing quickly became apparent. He was a superb hitter, earning himself a reputation for being especially gifted at hitting balls even when they were pitched in the strike zone. Despite the fact that he was a batter to be feared, his skills at catching are what earned him his fame. He was noted for his extreme ability to manage a variety of style of pitchers. During his career, he had the highest number of games caught out of all catchers in the American League eight times.
When Berra began playing for the Yankees in 1946, he played seven games in his first season, 83 in his second, and he would go on to play in over a hundred games in each of the last fourteen seasons during his lengthy career. He set a number of records during his career, including being the only player in MLB history to appear in fourteen World Series and ten World Series championships. Other records include being tied with Barry Bonds for the second most number of consecutive seasons to receive support for an MVP nomination.
Yogi Berra was truly an incredible baseball player. His playing style was able to cover a number of positions, and his accomplishments are undoubtedly some of the best in the history of Major League Baseball. His legend still lives on. Undoubtedly, his fame and adoring fans will continue to admire him for decades to come thanks to his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Yogi Berra Coaching and Managing Career
Yogi Berra is one of six managers to take teams from both the AL and NL to the World Series. In his almost 7 years as a manager with both the New York teams, he only had 2 losing seasons, no World Series championships, and 2 seasons where he didn’t last the whole season as a manager. Yogi managed the Mets from 1972-1975 with a record of 292-296 with them and with the Yankees he managed for a little over 2 (1964, 1984-1985), with a record of 192-148. A combined total of 484-444. He had problems dealing with management his entire coaching career, until the very end where he was able to find a good place to coach, with the Houston Astros.
First Time Managing the Yankees
When he started coaching, in 1963, he was still a player with the Yankees, he played and coached the Bronx Bombers this season; playing in only 64 games. After the 1963 season, he was given the Yankees’ manager job. In his first season of managing, 1964, he took the New York Yankees to a World Series, but lost in 7 games to the St. Louis Cardinals. He won 99 games in the regular season. After he lost this series, he was fired, the Yankees said it was due to lack of communication.
Coaching for the Mets
He was then hired by the state rivals, the Mets, working under Casey Stengal as his “assistant manager”. He played 4 games at catcher for the Mets team in 1965, but for the most part simply coached with them. His last at bat came as a member of the Mets, just three days short of his 40th birthday. He would coach with the Mets for 8 years under three different managers: Casey Stengal, Wes Wentrum, and Gil Hodges. With the Mets, he won one of his 13 championships; this was in 1969.
In 1972, Yogi was given a promotion as manager, replacing Gil Hodges, who had died that spring an untimely death. The very next year, 1973, he would win an NL pennant. He took them to the playoffs this year after being 9 1/2 games back of the Cubs in July, they won their division on the last day of the season. He was signed to a 3 year deal with the Mets, however, he was fired before making it to the end of his contract in 1975. He was fired this time with 53 games still left to play in the season. It was due to a bunch of management problems that weren’t really his fault. That seems to sum up his career as a manager with both of the New York teams.
Coaching for the Yankees, again
He returned to the Yankees in 1976 as a coach. He would win two more championships with these Yankees in both the 1977 and 1978 seasons. Yogi Berra replaced Billy Martin as manager after twice turning the position down for the 1984 season. George Steinbrenner went through a lot of coaches in this time period, not keeping a manager for very long, he didn’t keep Yogi for very long either. In the 1985 season, he had wanted to coach his son, Dale, who was a shortstop. Yogi had been coaching his son up to that point and his son had been doing pretty well. He was fired just 16 games into the 1985 season, after a 6-10 start, with the Yankees; making it so that he couldn’t manage his son. That and Dale’s personal problems. Yogi posted a .522 winning percentage, the highest during the Steinbrenner era, until Joe Torre.
Yogi never got along with George Steinbrenner when he was a coach and after one very heated argument, Yogi threw a pack of cigarettes at George. Later on, however, he would become friends with George, in the last decade of George’s life.
Being fired from the Yankees in 1985 allowed him to take his first summer vacation in forty-three years. He made a joke in an interview about his wife having to cook him dinner that summer.
Coaching for the Houston Astros
After being fired by the Yankees for a second time, he took a job with the Houston Astros, owned by one of his friends, John McMullen. When he took a job with the Astros, his model behavior and him coaching a team not located in New York made headlines. It surprised everyone. He lasted there for about 7 years and then in 1992 he retired from coaching altogether, ending his 29 year coaching career and his 46 year career in Major League Baseball.
Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center
People who ever plan on visiting Little Falls, New Jersey should pay a special visit to the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center before they leave. This is a museum that is located on the campus of the Montclair State University, but it isn’t just there for the current students. People who want to learn more about the acclaimed baseball player Yogi Berra won’t be able to find a better location for that practice than this museum. The museum and learning center is absolutely full of artifacts and mementos from the career of Yogi Berra. Many of the items that his fans have only ever seen online or in photographs can be found at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center.
This is a museum and learning center that was at least partly created for the fans of Yogi Berra himself. It was also literally created by the fans themselves, and it is unlikely that it would ever have gotten off of the ground otherwise. This museum is a gift from the people who are affiliated with the Friends of Yogi Inc., which is a nonprofit organization. Yogi Berra already has a nonprofit organization dedicated to him, and thanks to the efforts of that nonprofit organization, he now has a museum dedicated to him as well. People who have attracted a loyal fan following like this have a tendency to leave a lot behind in many different locations, which is certainly the case for Yogi Berra.
The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center was created entirely as a result of donations. The Friends of Yogi Inc., organization was able to raise an astounding two million dollars for the creation of this particular museum and learning center, which would have been impressive enough at the best of times. This museum and learning center was not created at the height of Yogi Berra’s career or at the height of his popularity, at least not in any real sense. As such, this center is a testament to the enduring popularity that Yogi Berra has been able to obtain among older fans and newer fans.
This museum and learning center opened in the year 1998, and it has been able to flourish since then. It has managed to bring in a lot of money to the school. Many colleges solicit donations from their alumni. Montclair State University at least has this particular museum and learning center to attract potential visitors, potential benefactors, and people who might otherwise be interested in the school. Many universities have an incentive to create museums like these, since they can essentially serve as part of their marketing plans. Many colleges and universities in the modern world need all the help that they can get, given the tremendous competition they will have in all directions.
The Museum’s Public Face
The exhibits of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center would probably be worth seeing for any baseball fan, even if the baseball fans in question are not particularly huge fans of Yogi Berra in general. People will see Yogi Berra’s ten World Series rings, his baseball cards, and the jacket that he wore during one of the most important parts of his career. The museum has a great reputation among the people who care a lot about recognizing the famous and respected athletes of the past.
The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center also does well in terms of community outreach. A lot of different elementary student groups will take field trips to the museum. The museum tries to promote the values of sportsmanship and perseverance, which is a huge part of the image that it markets to the world. They have an award that they give out to athletic students who have demonstrated strong leadership abilities known as the Best Teammate Award. Outlets like this are able to give talented students who are skilled in multiple areas additional opportunities for advancement within academics.
Youth softball and baseball camps are available through the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center. For some students, the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center will more or less be a big part of their formative experiences in general. The museum is developing quite a legacy in its own right.
Yogi Berra History
Lawrence Peter Berra who is commonly known as Yogi Berra has stirred the world of baseball. He is a legend and has set a name as a baseball catcher. While many know him as an all time baseball player, there is much more about him than meets the eye. His successes are well known across the globe and he has made it to the hall of fame later in his life in the year 1972. This has made him one of the all time baseball players in history.
Early life of Yogi Berra
Yogi was born on May 12 in the year 1925 from a rather humble background. His parents were Italian immigrants in a family of seven. As a young boy, he was nicknamed Lawdie because his mother could barely pronounce the name Lawrence. He worships in the Roman Catholic Church and as part of his education, he went to Catholic based schools, South Side Catholic which is currently St. Mary’s High School.
To get started, he started playing in the local American Legion. He sharpened his skills and got to know what got him in the sport as a professional from this point. As a beginner, he was not sure of his position and as a result, he played both outfield and infield positions as well. The term “Yogi” originated from a friend, Bobby Hofman, after he noted that Berra loved sitting with his legs and hands crossed just like a Hindu yogi either after they lost a game or as he prepared to play. He later got married to Carmen Berra in 1949 but later passed on in 2014 leaving his husband with three children.
Yogi’s Professional Career
Yogi definitely had talent and he is one of the greatest players who grew rather fast. While he started playing in minor leagues, he rapidly moved up and started playing the major leagues in just under a year. To relate in his growth, picture this. In the year 1946, he played just 7 games but in the following year, he played 83 games in total with the Yankees. With time, he played more than 100 games in a year.
In the year 1947 during his 3rd game, he hit the first ever pinch-hit home run in World Series history. Yogi featured as an All-Star for 15 seasons though he was selected in 18 of the All-Star Games. He was also a three time winner of the American League (AL) MVP award and in 15 consecutive seasons, he received MVP votes. This places him second in the number of votes for MVP being beat by Hank Aaron who had 19 votes.
Between the years 1949 and 1955, Yogi led the Yankees in RBI in 7 consecutive seasons despite the likes of Mickey Mantle in the team. Amongst his memorable days, which were also memorable o all baseball players was when he caught Don Larsen’s perfect game World Series in the year 1956. There are only two no-hitters every thrown in post season and Yogi recorded the first hit.
Yogi Retires as Player
After the 1963 World Series, Yogi retired as a player but did not disappear from the sport. He took over as the Yankees manager. As manager, he played the Yankees quite a number of games but after a streak of losing was realized; he was fired after they lost to St. Louis Cardinals.
After he was fired, he was signed in as coach with the Mets where he played as a catcher for the first few seasons. He later got off in 1965 though he kept his role as coach for eight seasons. In the year 1972, he became the team’s manager succeeding Gil Hodges after his death during spring training.
- The cartoon, Yogi bear, which has gained popularity across the globe, was named after him.
- He was the spokesperson for Yoo-Hoo beverages.
- There is a Yogi Berra stadium in Little Falls New Jersey
- Has participated in advertisements
He has been seen to take active roles in baseball through his lifetime and his success story cannot go unmentioned. His son, Tim Berra, is playing an active role in retaining his dad’s foot prints as he played with the New York Jets. His other son, Dela Berra shortstop three teams since 1977 to 1987. The family has proven to be athletic. Yogi played a major role in influencing other potential players in the sport and is recognized as a sport pillar across the globe.
Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical
This is one of his more popular sayings. For nice list of his famous saying take a look at USA Today.
We have all heard the term, “Practice makes perfect.” Well, not exactly; especially where baseball is concerned. What other game do you know of in which players are considered highly skilled when they get a base hit an average of only three out ten at-bats? In baseball, failure is simply part of the game. Such is the difficulty level of the sport that is known as America’s National Pastime.
While the idea of perfection in baseball may be a myth, achieving excellence is, indeed, possible. A good quote for any aspiring baseball player to commit to memory is actually credited to the legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi. He stated, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” This quote applies perfectly to playing the game of baseball. It doesn’t matter how big your baseball bat is.
So You Want To Play This Game Well?
Baseball is certainly a sport that anyone can enjoy. The drama and excitement of the game is mesmerizing, and the strategy involved in trying to win a game makes it a great spectator sport that millions of fans flock to each year. However, if you want to get out of the grandstands and actually play the game skillfully on the field, it will require a commitment to hard work, perseverance, and continuous repetition in practicing the basic skills of the game. If you are a baseball player who wants to improve your game, advance to the next level of play, and develop your skills to their fullest potential, a commitment to a consistent, disciplined, and focused practice regimen is a must.
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Compelling Reasons To Practice
Why, exactly, is baseball practice is so important for an aspiring player? For that matter, why can’t a team simply show up to the field on game day, and play as well as they performed a week ago without continuing to review and practice the fundamentals of the game? Here are several important reasons to engage in regularly scheduled baseball practice sessions:
1. Mechanics – Hitting and throwing may appear easy and effortless when you watch the motions, but learning to do them correctly is an entirely different matter. Learning the correct mechanical motions of hitting and throwing, to the extent that they are done correctly and appear very natural, requires continual repetition of the motions until they become automatic and fluid, with effective follow-through.
2. Bat Speed and Timing – One of the most difficult things in the world is to use a round bat to hit a round ball moving at a high rate of speed. Effective hitting requires correct timing of the swing, combined with moving the bat through the strike zone at a speed and an angle that allows the batter to make solid contact with the baseball. This requires repetition after repetition of one’s swing in regular batting practice sessions.
3. Ability To Hit a Variety of Pitches – The great basketball player, Michael Jordan, retired from basketball to attempt a professional baseball career. He encountered a measure of success playing for a minor league team, and became proficient at hitting a fastball, but he struggled with effectively hitting a curveball. The primary reason? He simply had not logged enough time at facing the curve because he had not played baseball for most of his adult life. This example points to the reality that there is no substitute for practice time spent learning how to hit various types of pitches.
5. Effective Fielding Skills – Former Yankee second baseman, Bobby Richardson, said that as a child he would practice fielding dozens of ground balls in a row perfectly, and if he made an error, he would begin the count all over again. Whether the position player is fielding ground balls or catching fly balls in the outfield, repetitive practice of these skills is essential in order to learn to develop and follow the correct initial instinct when fielding the ball in a game situation. For example, staying low and watching a ground ball all the way into the glove, or getting properly aligned to catch a fly ball are skills that must be developed with repeated practice until they become automatic habits.
6. Team Function As a Unit On The Field – Whether it is turning a double play, covering infield positions when there is a bunt, properly executing a hit and run, double steal, or a squeeze bunt; baseball is a team sport that requires much team practice in order to implement strategies with precision. It truly takes all nine players working together as a finely tuned machine to play winning baseball.
While possessing natural ability is a very important indicator of how successful one may eventually become in playing the game of baseball, there really is no substitute for developing one’s skills through repeated practice sessions. Many a coach has said that they would rather have a player with average ability who is willing to work hard than have a player gifted with much natural ability who is not willing to work hard.
Whether you play baseball in Little League, high school, summer league, college, or amateur adult league – keep practicing hard. It is the key to success!