On this date in 1965, Yogi Berra’s playing career, and his brief stint as a player for the Mets, came to a close. If you don’t remember Yogi’s time playing for the Mets, there’s a good reason for that.
Berra first retired following the Yankees’ 1963 World Series loss to the Dodgers and took over as manager for the Pinstripes in 1964. When he was fired from the job despite guiding the Yanks to the AL Pennant, Berra decided that he would return to the field for the Mets’ crosstown rivals in a player-coach role. The soon-to-be 40-year-old inked a deal with the orange and blue in late April and made his debut on May 1st against the Reds as a reserve.
Berra’s playing stint for the Mets lasted a grand total of four games and he notched two hits in his nine plate appearances. His time on the field for the Mets wasn’t all that memorable but it did add another fun wrinkle to the Hall of Famer’s resume. It also helped give birth to yet another Yogi-ism. As legend goes, when he was asked if he and teammate Warren Spahn were the oldest battery in baseball, Yogi responded, “I don’t think we’re the oldest battery, but we’re certainly the ugliest.”
The first half of Berra’s player/coach title didn’t work out as planned and the Mets “released” him after he saw time in just four May games on this date 49 years ago. However, Berra would stay with the organization for the next eight seasons as a coach until 1972, when he became manager after the passing of Gil Hodges.
Yogi’s short time on the field became an entree to a post-playing career with the Mets, but it also delayed is eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame by a couple of years. After garnering just 67.2% of the vote in his first try in 1971, Berra cruised to a nomination in 1972 with 85.6% approval, putting him only behind Sandy Koufax in that year’s class.