Yogi Berra, known as much for his quotable malapropisms as for his baseball career, has died at his home in New Jersey, according to Dave Kaplan, director of the Yogi Berra Museum. The Hall of Famer was 90 years old.
Berra was a Yankee alongside fellow legends Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle from 1949 to 1965, helping the team win 10 World Series championships. He played in more World Series games (14) than any other major leaguer and was named MVP three times.
In the grueling role of catcher, Berra caught the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956. But his skill in the batter’s box is what first made him famous — and feared.
Standing 5’7″ and weighing 185 pounds, Berra had a reputation for rising to any occasion. He drove in 100 or more runs in five seasons, and flirted with the mark in four more. In the 75 World Series games he played, Berra struck out only 17 times.
According to the Baseball Hall of Fame site:
“He was one of the most feared hitters the game had ever seen. Teammate Hector Lopez said, ‘Yogi had the fastest bat I ever saw. He could hit a ball late, that was already past him, and take it out of the park. The pitchers were afraid of him because he’d hit anything, so they didn’t know what to throw. Yogi had them psyched out and he wasn’t even trying to psych them out.’ ”
Berra, born Lawrence Peter Berra in St. Louis, dropped out of school in eighth grade to go to work to support his family. Still, he went on to publish three books, including “It Ain’t Over…” in 1989 and 1998’s “The Yogi Book: I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said” which made The New York Times bestseller list.
The Times obit has a roundup of some of Berra’s “both nonsensical and sagacious” Yogi-isms:
“‘You can observe a lot just by watching,’ he is reputed to have declared once, describing his strategy as a manager.
“‘If you can’t imitate him,” he advised a young player who was mimicking the batting stance of the great slugger Frank Robinson, ‘don’t copy him.’
“‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it,’ he said while giving directions to his house. Either path, it turned out, got you there.