American Icon and Major League Baseball Hall Of Famer, Yogi Berra, Dies At Age 90
By Dr. James Palermo // September 23, 2015
PASSED AWAY AT HOME IN NEW JERSEY
ABOVE VIDEO: Highlight video of Yogi Berra’s life produced for his induction into the St. Louis Hall of Fame in 2009.
LIFE OF INTEGRITY, HUMILITY AND CONTAGIOUS GOOD HUMOR
America and the game of baseball lost one of its most beloved icons when Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra died peacefully last night in Montclair New Jersey at the age of 90.
Yogi’s passing is also a very personal loss for our family. He was Uncle Yogi to my brothers, sister and me. Aunt Carmen, his wife of 65 years, who sadly also passed away in March of last year, was my mother’s sister.
He is survived by the couple’s three sons: Tim, Dale and Lawrence Jr., and 11 grandchildren.
“While we mourn the loss of our father, grandfather and great-grandfather, we know he is at peace with Mom,” Berra’s family said in a statement released by the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center. “We celebrate his remarkable life, and are thankful he meant so much to so many. He will truly be missed.”
SERVED HIS COUNTRY WITH DISTINCTION
Berra’s early professional baseball career was interrupted by WWII.
As a 19-year-old U.S. Navy Second Class Seaman Lawrence P. Berra, Yogi played a significant part in the Normandy Invasion.
A gunner’s mate, he was one of a six-man crew on USS Bayfield, a Navy rocket boat, firing machine guns and launching rockets at the German defenses at Omaha Beach.
He was fired upon, but was not hit, and later received several commendations for his bravery.
CONSIDERED BY MANY TO BE GREATEST CATCHER EVER
Berra is considered by many to be the greatest catcher in baseball history.
He played in more World Series games than any other major leaguer, was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player and played in 15 straight All-Star Games.
As a manager, he led both the Yankees and Mets to pennants.
Berra’s prowess on the diamond was celebrated by his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 and selection in 1999 as a member of the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, chosen by popular vote of fans.
BELOVED AND OFT-QUOTED AMERICAN ICON
Beyond being one of the greatest players of all time on the field, he was also one of the sport’s most colorful and quotable characters off of it.
Berra holds a special place in the American vernacular for famously paradoxical yet witty “Yogi-isms,” phrases which are common in popular culture, including, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” and “It’s deja vu all over again.”
Over the years, my brother Tom and I had the pleasure of spending time with Uncle Yogi and Aunt Carmen both here in Florida during their annual Spring Training trips, and at their home in Montclair, New Jersey.
During one of our trips to Montclair, we were driving back to his house from the museum when he stopped and said, “Right here is the famous fork in the road.”
Tom and I gave each other the puzzled look and asked Yogi what he was talking about. He pointed out to us that the street into his neighborhood ended in a “T” so that you had to go either right or left.
It just so happens that both streets merge after making a wide circle through the neighborhood and Carmen and Yogi’s home was equidistance around the circle from the T.
After the “Aha” moment sunk in, Yogi’s oft-quoted direction to friends coming to his house, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it,” made perfect sense to both of us.
If we add very analytical and logical (in his own way) to modest, genuine, good-hearted and affable, we start to understand why Berra was one of the most beloved and frequently quoted persons of our lifetime – perhaps in history.
INTEGRITY, HUMILITY AND CONTAGIOUS GOOD HUMOR
A statement from the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Montclair, New Jersey best describes his life and contribution:
“Yogi conducted his life with unwavering integrity, humility and a contagious good humor that elevated him from baseball legend to beloved national icon. For all his accolades and honors as a player, coach and mentor, he remained completely true to himself – a rare example of authentic character excellence and a lasting role model for his peers, his public, and the thousands of children who visit the YBMLC each year to take part in programs inspired by his values.”
RIP, Uncle Yogi. You will be sorely missed.