Last Tuesday night the world lost a baseball legend, an American hero and an even better man; Yogi Berra passed away at the age of 90. Berra was a maestro on the baseball field, making it look easy day in-and-day out, his words and positive outlook on life was the best feature he implied as well as his enormous success on the diamond.
In his 90 years on earth he influenced millions with his attitude, effort, and values. A life and career that is unmatched. To some it’s really impossible to justify everything that Yogi meant to everyone that he came in contact with, because going down the line just isn’t enough.
A Baseball Icon
Yogi Berra is one of the best catchers and players ever to cross the white lines and play America’s National Pastime. In 19 years, he put up numbers that will never be touched again, not even on a video game. He was an 18 time All-Star and a jaw dropping 10 time World Series champion, meaning a ring for every finger. They say records are made to be broken, but this one is going to stand forever. With the amount of parity in baseball today, the chances for this to ever happen again seems implausible. The position he played for nearly two decades as a catcher was a grueling of position as it is. Still to this day, he is the only major league catcher to catch a perfect game in the postseason, that’s not really a surprise since he also holds the record for most postseason games played with 75.
Overall his career batting average never dipped below .280, actually it stands directly at .285. Berra’s 358 home runs and 1,430 RBIs traces back to just how powerful of a hitter he was during his generation. Over the course of his 8,359 plate appearances, he struck out just 414 times. Moreso, Berra never finished a season with 40 strikeouts, the most he ever accumulated in a single season was 38 in 1959. Today, that is an unthinkable feat. The average major league baseball player through the course of a season strikes out 107 times. If you put Berra’s stats up against today’s players, the discipline and fundamental approach has significantly declined.
Not only was he one of the most powerful hitters ever at his respective position, but the defensive tangibles he showcased daily was astonishing. Berra threw out 45% of would-be base stealers, revealing that he was in fact the full package on both sides of the ball. Yogi Berra is a once in a lifetime player and the mere fact that many failed to witness his greatness is a tragedy. Even when his playing career ended, his legacy on the baseball diamond extended to a personal level. Berra managed the Yankees in 1964, 1984, and 1985. Not to mention, he took the Yankees to three AL Pennants. It didn’t matter what he did in the game of baseball, because in the end he was a champion. People will always think of him as a great ballplayer, but also a great person.
Yogi Berra’s life was so much more than baseball, he served in the Navy and stormed the beach at Normandy on D-Day. Thinking about his country before himself was a quality he exhibited every day in his life. When he talked, everyone listened to his profound “yogi-isms” that not only were related to baseball, but simply the essence of growing up. Sometimes life itself reflects back on the moments where his quotes such as “the game’s isn’t over until it’s over” or “I never said most of the things I said” rains down, revealing the memories he left behind.