It’s a sad day in the game of baseball, as reports late last night surfaced that one of the game’s all-time great players and personalities, Yogi Berra, has passed away. The Hall of Famer, three-time MVP and 10-time World Series Champion was 90 years old.
Berra spent parts of 19 seasons in the Major Leagues, debuting at 21 years of age in 1946 and would don Yankee pinstripes each season through 1963, also making a brief, four-game appearance with the Mets in 1965. An excellent defensive catcher (and eventually a plus defender in the outfield as well), Berra caught 49 percent of the baserunners that attempted to steal against him in his career and compiled a brilliant .285/.348/.482 batting line in 8359 big league plate appearances. He retired with 358 home runs, 1175 runs scored, 1430 RBIs and 704 walks against a minuscule 414 strikeouts in his career. Strikeouts, of course, were less common in that era than in today’s game, but Berra’s knack for putting the ball in play was nonetheless remarkable; he struck out just 12 times in 656 trips to the plate in 1950 and five times completed a season with more home runs than punchouts.
Berra would earn MVP honors in the 1951, 1954 and 1955 seasons, and he finished in the Top 5 of the award’s voting on five other occasions. He batted .274/.359/.452 in his illustrious postseason career, all of which contributed to the Yankees’ decision to retire his No. 8 alongside the rest of the legends of the franchise.
Following his playing career, Berra returned to the game as a manager, spending parts of seven seasons guiding both the Yankees and Mets. Though he finished with an overall record that was four games south of .500, Berra captured a pennant with each franchise, winning the AL pennant with the Yankees in 1964 and the NL pennant with the Mets in 1973.
Despite all of the aforementioned accolades, though, Berra is equally, if not more revered due to his affable nature and paradoxically quotable nature. Berra was a font of quotes throughout his career — the New York Post has compiled 35 of his most memorable “Yogi-isms” in tribute to the Yankee icon — responsible for now-classic sayings such as, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical,” “It’s deja vu all over again,” and “You can observe a lot by watching.”
Berra served as an inspiration to multiple generations of fans and players alike, and he’ll be remembered as one of the game’s true treasures. Though the game will never see another character quite like Berra, he leaves behind a wealth of irreplaceable memories that will ensure his presence remains ingrained in the very fabric of the game for generations to come. We at MLBTR join those in mourning his passing and offer our condolences to his three sons, the rest of his family and friends as well as the countless people whose lives were impacted and bettered by one of the game’s all-time great personalities.