When it comes to catchers, one of the best in MLB history is Yogi Berra. He is what all young catchers should aspire to be like, but he was truly one of a kind on and off the field.
Part of the reason that Berra will be remembered is because he overcame being relatively small for a baseball player. Berra showed that it’s heart and motivation that really matters.
Now Berra’s name is quite interesting. His full name Lawrence Peter Berra, Yogi is more of a nickname. Berra received the name when he played American Legion Baseball. Berra would sit down with his arms and legs crossed and a friend said he looked like a Yogi from India.
in 1942, Berra was signed by the New York Yankees, but his baseball career was put on pause due to World War II. Berra joined the Navy and participated in the Normandy landings.
The definition of consistent
After the war, Berra played minor league baseball for the Newark Bears. Berra wasn’t called up to the majors in 1946. That season he only ended up playing in 7 games. After that, Berra was a mainstay in the Yankees lineup. After the 1947 season, Berra played in more than 100 games for 14 straight seasons. He wasn’t just a consistent player, he was consistently able to stay healthy.
The thing that stands out about Berra is that he was such a consistent player. Statistically though his best season was in 1954 when he hit 22 home runs, 125 RBIs, with a .307.
Berra’s best years came from 1950-1957. During that span of time, he won three AL MVP awards and never finished lower than fourth in MVP voting. Also, during this time, Berra caught Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Another reason that Berra is remembered so fondly is because of his performances in the World Series. He holds World Series records in hits, games played, at bats, singles, doubles, and catcher putouts. By the end of his career, Berra had won 13 World Series.
Post playing career
Berra retired in 1963 after being a player coach and he then became manager of the New York Yankees a year later. After a stint with the New York Mets, Berra returned to the Yankees organization in 1976 and before the 1984 season was named manager of the club. Things did not go well with Berra ending up as the Houston Astros bench coach a year later.
It would be hard for Berra to not be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 1972 with over 85% of the vote. The honors didn’t stop there for Berra. His No.8 was also retired by the Yankees that same year. Also in 1988 Berra ended up receiving a plaque and will forever be enshrined in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Berra was also named to the All Century Team
Berra is also remembered for his interesting quips known as “Yogi-isms.” These were sayings that Berra came up with on his own. They include “90 percent of baseball is mental; the other half is physical.”, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”, and “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
Berra passed away at the age of 90 due to natural causes. In 2015 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously by Barack Obama.
There are plenty of great players who have worn the pinstripes, but Berra is still one of the best players in Yankees history. Beyond that, Berra is arguably the greatest catcher to ever play baseball.