Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra passed away early Wednesday morning. He will be missed.
What can be said about Yogi Berra? Should we discuss how he won ten World Series titles with one franchise in the Yankees? Should we talk about his service for the U.S. Navy in World War II? Should we mention he was a three-time American League MVP, one of only five players to accomplish this feat?
I have a different idea. Everyone will tell the story of who Yogi Berra was. This is how I see him.
The date was July 18, 1999. I was a 12-year-old kid in the Bronx, huddled with my family in front of our TV box.
The New York Yankees took on the Montreal Expos. Before that game started, they decided to welcome back one of their own.
It was Yogi Berra Day at the old Yankee Stadium. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner publicly apologized to Berra for how he fired him from the Yankee manager job in 1985. Berra made his way to the field to a rousing standing ovation, one of the loudest I’ve heard. It amazed me that the crowd cheered for this man.
That’s when I asked my dad, “Who is this guy?”
Dad smiled and told me not only who he was but also what he means to the Yankees. I nodded but didn’t really grasp how much he meant to them.
I saw the relationship grow between Berra and the Yankees of that time. Their interaction told me everything I needed to know.
Yogi Berra was all right with me. I discovered he was more than that.
My father gave me one of his books to read, called The Yogi Book. It contained every infamous “Yogism” he ever said. I became obsessed with this book.
Some of them became my favorites. I still say, “It’s déjà vu all over again” on too many occasions.
He was more than just an adjunct philosopher. He also showed he wasn’t a tin man. Berra still had a heart.
Berra opened his Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Montclair, New Jersey, for everyone to enjoy. His intention was to instill sportsmanship and education to future generations. So far, he’s done a good job.
So, how will I remember Yogi Berra? Was he a good player, good humanitarian or both? Did he really never say most of the things he said?
Regardless, Yogi Berra was everything to all of us. In fact, he was a good person.
That’s all we can ask for a role model. Yogi Berra was a true human being, and we shouldn’t ask anything more than that from someone like him.
Berra meant the world to the Yankees. He will be remembered as the most beloved Yankee of all time.
Yogi Berra did things his way. And we wouldn’t remember him any other way.
Rest in peace, Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra. We’ll miss you.
Copyrighted @ 2007