Yogi Berra is an American baseball player and coach born on May 12, 1925, in St. Louis, Missouri. Berra played for the Yankees starting in 1946 and throughout his career. Widely considered one of the best catchers in history, he won the American League Most Valuable Player award three times and as well as 10 championships. In all, Berra played in 14 World Series and 18 All-Star Games. Berra was also known for his signature style of leaving a finger outside his glove, something later imitated by other catchers. In later years, he managed the team, representing only one of six managers to lead both National and American League teams to the World Series. Berra died in 2015 at the age of 90.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1925, baseball legend Yogi Berra is as famous for his sports career as he is for his malapropisms. He earned some measure of fame for his ability to mangle common phrases and sayings, such as "It ain't over 'til it's over" and "I didn't really say everything I said." These quips have become known as "Yogi-isms."
The son of Italian immigrants, Berra played sports with his three older brothers growing up. He also had a younger sister, too. Berra dropped out of school to help his family in eighth grade. He earned his nickname—"Yogi"—from a childhood friend who thought he resembled an Indian snake charmer. In his teens, Berra got serious about baseball. He was playing in the minor leagues when he and neighborhood friend Joe Garagiola were offered a deal by Cardinals manager Branch Rickey. But Rickey only offered Berra $250, half of what he paid Garagiola. Berra turned Rickey down and was soon discovered by the Yankees.
Player, Coach and Manager
After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Berra became one of the Yankees' catchers in 1946. He spent his career with the team, earning a reputation as a hitter who nearly never got struck out. He hit his career peak in the 1950s, winning the American League Most Valuable Player honors three times. In all, Berra played in 14 World Series and 15 All-Star Games. He worked well with his pitchers, and he helped Don Larsen achieve a perfect, no-hit game in the 1956 World Series. Berra was also not above trying to psych out the other team. According to his website, he talked to the batters, including Hank Aaron, to distract them.
Retiring as a player after the 1963 season, Berra became the manager of the Yankees. He lasted just one season in that role despite leading the team to the 1964 World Series, and he quickly moved on to the New York Mets. Berra returned to the field to play in four games in 1965, but otherwise served as a coach. After taking over as manager, he helped the Mets win the National League pennant in 1973, before leaving the team two years later.
Berra returned to the Yankees as a coach in 1976. In 1984, he was promoted to manager to replace the controversial Billy Martin. Then, at the start of the 1985 season, Berra was fired by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. His final coaching job was with the Houston Astros.
After retiring from the Astros in 1992, Berra began devoting himself to philanthropic pursuits. He opened the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Little Falls, New Jersey, in 1998, which is dedicated to his career and baseball history. It also offers a baseball camp and sports-related workshops.
To support the museum, Berra held an annual celebrity golf event. The usually gregarious Berra seemed a little more subdued at the 2012 tournament at the Montclair Golf Club. He chose to remain inside the golf clubhouse at the event rather than chat with participants outside, as he had done with wife Carmen in previous years, according to the New York Daily News.
Berra died of natural causes on September 22, 2015, at the age of 90. Two months later, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
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