Being a lifelong Yankee fan, the death of Yogi Berra feels a lot like losing a friend. He was a Yankee icon and a genuine character who became firmly embedded in baseball history and American pop culture. A three-time MVP, he played in seventy-five World Series games and won ten rings--numbers that may never be surpassed by subsequent generations. I don't have any personal stories to share about Berra, but I do know that my father took my two nephews to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown when they were quite young. As they were walking up the street, they spotted Berra from a distance. Incredibly, when Yogi noticed he had been recognized, he actually crossed the street to say 'hello' and to tell them to 'have fun' inside the Hall. Few if any legendary players would have done that. Since my own words are woefully inadequate to capture the spirit of this man, I would like to share a few quotes from others who were close to Yogi.
Commissioner Rob Manfred
"Renowned as a great teammate, Yogi stood for values like inclusion and respect during the vital era when our game became complete and open to all. With his trademark humility and good humor, Yogi represented only goodwill to baseball fans."
"What a beautiful man...What a Beautiful spirit. Celebrate the life of Yogi Berra today."
"Yogi Berra's legacy transcends baseball. Though slight in stature, he was a giant in the most significant ways through his service to his country, compassion for others and genuine enthusiasm for the game he loved. He has always been a role model and hero that America could look up to."
"To those who didn't know Yogi personally, he was one of the greatest players and Yankees of all time. To the lucky ones who did, he was an even better person. To me, he was a dear friend and mentor. He will always be remembered for his success on the field, but I believe his finest quality was how he treated everyone with sincerity and kindness."
"We've lost Yogi, but we will always have what he left for us: The memories of a lifetime filled with greatness, humility, integrity and a whole bunch of smiles. He was a lovable friend."
President Barack O'Bama
"Berra was an American original--a Hall of Famer and humble veteran, prolific jokester and jovial prophet. He epitomized what it meant to be a sportsman and a citizen with a big heart, competitive spirit and a selfless desire to open baseball to everyone no matter their background."
In closing, it seems fitting to include an exchange that took place between Yogi and his beloved wife Carmen one day.
Carmen: We live in New Jersey and you used to play ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?
Yogi: Surprise me.