It makes you feel old when your boyhood heroes pass on.
Baseball lost a great one, a star, a personality, an icon, an everyday man who was extraordinary.
Yogi Berra passed away late Tuesday night at the age of 90, the historical-hysterical Yankees superstar catcher, manager, ambassador.
I interviewed him twice in my career, and could just sit for hours and listen to him tell stories about his era and the Yankees aura. And what a special time it was from the late 1940s into the mid-1950’s.
It was a galaxy of greatness, that Yankees roster that started with DiMaggio, and stretched thru Mantle and Maris, with special people like Jerry Coleman, White Ford and Berra sprinkled around the diamond.
Berra was a tower of strength as a ballplayer, making himself a great catcher, and a power hitting slugger, who swung at bad balls as well as strikes.
His personality outshined his productivity, but he was an 18-time All Star, won 10-World Series rings, played in 14-Fall Classics. He didn’t ride in on anyone’s coattails either.
There was Berra the player, who became Berra the manager, first with the Yankees, then the Mets.
It was Berra behind home plate trying to tag out the daring Jackie Robinson in a steal of home in the ’50 World Series with the Dodgers. And it was Berra jumping into the arms of Don Larsen, after the World Series perfect game.
But there was so much more to Yogi. His phrases, published into a book of Yogi’isms, made him equal to all the strange things his old manager Casey Stengel said back in the day. Could you imagine a conversation between those two?
It was Berra and all his charity work, and the decision to donate all his memorabilia to a Museum at Montclair State in New Jersey.
And it was the standup guy Berra, who feuded with George Steinbrenner, and who stayed away from Yankees Stadium for 14-years after he felt he was mistreated by the Boss.
Berra stood tall too in the LTS boats on D-Day at Normandy in 1944, firing rockets onto the hillsides trying valiantly to protect those who waded ashore. He was part of the group picking up the dead and wounded hours after the carnage began on Omaha Beach..
The obituary reads he was preceded in death by his wife Carmen, whom he met growing up on the Hill in St. Louis. It reads he is survived by 3-sons,including former Pirates shortstop Dale.
It should also read “Yogi is survived by millions of baseball fans” who will remember him for grace, class, talent, and his love for all. I am one of those millions this morning.
The Yankees #8 in the hearts as #1 to so many Yankees baseball fans.