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Known for being one of the best players to interview in baseball, Yogi Berra also goes down in history as one of the most successful catchers to ever play the game.
Standing only 5’7”, Berra was known not just for his humor, but his toughness behind the plate as well as his overall hitting ability.
Yogi Berra won 10 World Series rings during his 19-year Major League Baseball career. His 10 World Championships is the most of any player in MLB history.
As the gap between present day and his playing career widens, Berra’s personality tends to carry the weight of his legacy, but in this article, we will take a look at what makes Yogi Berra one of the best catchers, and overall players, the game has ever seen.
Who is Yogi Berra?
Some fans who aren’t as attuned to baseball history might hear the name Yogi Berra and think, “That name sounds familiar, but isn’t it a cartoon?” You are probably thinking of Yogi Bear, the 1958 cartoon.
However, Yogi Berra is a real person who made a name for himself during his 19-year playing career and his managerial career that followed.
Yogi Berra was a catcher for the New York Yankees from 1946 – 1963. He went on to play one season in 1965 for the New York Mets. As stated, he is one of the greatest catchers of all time and had a spectacular career full of several accomplishments.
During his playing days, he was voted to the American League All-Star 18 times, playing in 15 of those games. He is one of only six players in MLB history to win three Most Valuable Player awards (1951, 1954, and 1955).
One of the reasons Berra is not often thought about as one of the best players in MLB history is because he played on the same team as Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, both players known for their prowess at the plate.
What many people don’t realize is that Berra led this dominant Yankees’ lineup in RBI for seven consecutive seasons. He did it all while playing one of the most demanding positions on the field, catcher.
All in all, Yogi Berra is more than just a funny personality. He was a great baseball player who has the accolades to back up his play.
What are Yogi Berra’s Career Stats?
There may be players that have better career numbers than Yogi Berra, but one of the things that stands out is the longevity and consistency of Berra’s career. That is supported when looking at his career statistics.
Berra batted .285 with 358 home runs and 1,430 RBI throughout his career. He has a career batting average of .274 along with 12 home runs and 39 RBI in the postseason.
Berra’s numbers may not jump out at you at first, but in a time where players did not play late into their careers, Berra defied many odds and continued to produce at an All-Star level until his late thirties.
Over his career, he had an offensive WAR of 59.4 which averages out to 4.5 per Wins Above Replacement over a 162-game season.
Playing in 14 World Series championships, Berra etched his name at the top of the list in several career categories. He holds World Series records in games played (75), games caught (63), at-bats (259), hits (71), doubles (10), and singles (49).
Did Yogi Berra Serve in the Military?
In the early 1900s, a male age 18 or older was expected, and often honored, to serve his country during times of war. Many professional athletes were no exception, including the great Yogi Berra.
Yogi Berra served in the United States Navy as a gunner’s mate in 1943 at 18 years old during World War II. He paused his baseball career at the time to fight in the war.
For his outstanding service in the Navy, he earned a Purple Heart for his role in the war. He was part of a six-man crew which fired ammunition at German defense ships on Omaha Beach. He also stated that he was sent to Utah Beach during the D-Day attacks.
His bravery has been commended by many of fellow shipmates during these attacks, which is why he was awarded a Purple Heart medal by the president.
As an 18-year-old with promise on the baseball field, Berra truly put his service to his country before himself, and for that we thank him.
Where was Yogi Berra Born?
In order to learn about a professional athlete’s career, you must understand their upbringing because it is often filled with interesting tidbits that help bring out the human side of them.
Yogi Berra was born in St. Louis Missouri in 1925. His mother and father were both Italian immigrants who raised their five children in a mostly Italian neighborhood in St. Louis.
His birth name is Lawrence Peter Berra. He was given the nickname Yogi by one of his teammates on his American Legion team because he apparently looked like a yogi (someone who practices yoga) when he would cross his arms and legs when sitting in the dugout.
He grew up across the street from a future Major League catcher and later-turned baseball broadcaster Joe Garagiola. The two future big leaguers grew up as best friends, and Garagiola actually signed a professional contract with the hometown Cardinals at age 16.
That same year, 17-year-old Berra was signed by the Yankees for a $500 signing bonus, the same amount offered by the Cardinals to Garagiola. Possibly motivated by his hometown team passing on him for his best friend, Berra went on to have a longer, more decorated career.
Branch Rickey, the Los Angeles Dodgers general manager known for signing Jackie Robinson, was also very interested in Berra, but the Yankees were able to sign him before Rickey could put a deal together.
What are “Berra-isms”?
Yogi Berra got the most out of his talent on the baseball field, and he also left a legacy off of it. He is known for being a light-hearted individual with a great sense of humor. That personality shined in many of his interviews.
A “Berra-ism” is a quote that is intended to be funny and illogical, but at the same time may highlight a simple truth in life. They are called “Berra-isms” because Yogi Berra was famous for sharing these types of quotes in his postgame interviews.
One of his most famous quotes that is shared among many sports fans and players around the world is, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”
He is also credited with several other silly sayings such as, “It’s like deja vu all over again,” “You can observe a lot just by watching,” and “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Possibly his most famous quote relating to baseball is, “ Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical.”
Berra became so well-known for his “Berra-isms” that he even got credit for quotes by others that sounded like something he would say. When asked about this, Berra responded with, “I never said most of the things I said.”
What other positions did Yogi Berra play?
Yogi Berra also played outfield along with catcher. He started a total of 262 games in either left or right field in his career. Most of his time in the outfield came early in his career as he was finding his way into the starting lineup and later in his career in an attempt to rest his legs.
How much money did Yogi Berra make playing baseball?
Yogi Berra made just above $700,000 in his playing career. While that may not seem to be much compared to today’s players, he was getting paid top dollar in his time. The most money he ever made was $65,000 in 1957 after winning three MVP awards in six seasons.
Who is the greatest catcher in MLB History?
There is a lot of debate about who the greatest catcher of all-time is. Guys like Johnny Bench, Mika Piazza, Yadier Molina, Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, and Ivan Rodriguez are often mentioned in this conversation with Bench being the top option in most fans’ eyes.
Was Yogi Berra a good manager?
Berra’s managerial career had its ups and downs. His overall record was 484-444, and he made it to the World Series twice, once with the Yankees and once with the Mets. He lost both of those series. He was fired by the Mets in 1975, and fired by the Yankees in 1985.