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Yogi Berra Transcended Baseball 2

Posted on September 23, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Yogi Berra made his major league debut in 1946 and reached his first World Series in 1947.

Yogi Berra made his major league debut in 1946 and reached his first World Series in 1947.

Yogi Berra, who has passed away at the age of 90, wasn’t just a baseball legend, but also an American hero, cultural icon and national treasure. Not too bad for the son of an Italian immigrant who grew up in St. Louis.

Growing up across the street from another future baseball icon Joe Garagiola, Berra was an American Legion standout before signing with the New York Yankees in 1942.

Starting his career with the Norfolk Tides, who were a member of the Class B Piedmont League, Berra once drove in 23 runs in a doubleheader.

Like many other future baseball stars, Berra served in World War II. As a gunner’s mate, Berra served on the USS Bayfield during the D-Day invasion of France.

Following the war, Berra returned to baseball and despite not possessing great size or athleticism, soon began turning heads with his baseball abilities. He was tutored as a catcher by Hall of Famer Bill Dickey and eventually followed in Dickey’s footsteps wearing number 8 for the New York Yankees.

After appearing in seven games at the major league level in 1946, Berra appeared in 83 games in 1947 and was on his way to a long and illustrious major league career.

Berra made the first of his record 14 World Series appearances in 1947 and earned his first championship ring despite hitting only .158 with a home run and two RBI in six games against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The following season Berra made the first of 15 straight All Star appearances while hitting .305 with 14 home runs and 98 RBI.

One of the elements that made Berra such an iconic baseball figure was that he served as a bridge between generations of Yankee greatness. He played five seasons with the legendary Joe DiMaggio and then spent more than a decade with the next iconic Yankee Mickey Mantle. While Berra didn’t necessarily have the physical talents of either of those stars, he ended up matching the Yankee legends  as three-time winners of the American League MVP award. Read the rest of this entry →

Happy Birthday Yogi Berra! 2

Posted on May 12, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Happy 86th Birthday to Yogi Berra.

Today marks the 86th birthday for one of the true iconic sports figures of the 20th Century. While Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was a Hall of Fame player, what has made him part of the American lexicon is the array of statements, some of which he really said and others that just sound like he probably said them, that are quoted by people and attributed to Berra all the time.

Here are just a few of the “best of the best” Yogi-isms.

“I want to thank you for making this day necessary”

“It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

“When you get to a fork in the road, take it”

“Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”

“We have a good time together, even when we’re not together”

“Our similarities are different”

“We make too many wrong mistakes”

“Slump? I ain’t in no slump… I just ain’t hitting”

“You can observe a lot by watching”

“It gets late early around here…”

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore”

“If I didn’t wake up I’d still be sleeping”

“Always go to other people’s funerals otherwise they won’t go to yours”

“You have to give 100 percent in the first half of the game. If that isn’t enough, in the second half, you have to give what is left.”

“Never answer an anonymous letter”

And perhaps his most famous saying:

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over”

Here’s hoping that it won’t be over for Yogi Berra for many years to come. Happy 86th Birthday Yogi!

Don Larsen’s Perfect Game: My Uncle’s Tall Tale 3

Posted on October 08, 2010 by Andrew Jeromski

On October 8, 1956, New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen arrived in the clubhouse, and much to his alleged surprise, found a baseball tucked into one of his shined cleats. Placed there by pitching coach Jim Turner, the ball was the signal that Larsen would be the starting pitcher that afternoon–game five of the World Series.

Halladay pitched the second no-hitter in postseason history

What happened next was one of those magical moments in sports when the near-impossible, the utterly implausible is dragged into reality through little more than sheer force of will. Larsen set down 27 Brooklyn Dodgers in a row, and recorded the first perfect game and the first no-hitter in postseason history. His was the only such feat ever accomplished until 53 years and 363 days later, when Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy “Doc” Halladay no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in game one of the National League Divisional Series with an epic one-walk performance during a 4-0 win.

In the spirit of remembrance, I thought I would share with you a piece of family lore that concerns Larsen’s perfecto; but first, a little more background.

Charlie Manuel played for Billy Martin

Interestingly enough, when Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel was a player, the only two managers he ever played for were Billy Martin (Min 69-72) and Walter Alston (LAD 74, 75), both of whom were present for Larsen’s perfect game. Alston, of course, as the Brooklyn Dodgers manager, and Martin as the Yankees starting second baseman that afternoon.

Larsen maintains to this day that he had no idea he was to start game five. The claim is a bit dubious simply because he was listed as the starter in most national newspapers that day, but former Yankee teammates like Bill “Moose” Skowron have backed his assertion.

“I still can’t believe the look he had on his face when he saw the ball,” said Skowron, “… shock or something.”

Larsen had performed poorly in game 2, lasting less than two innings and surrendering four runs on four walks, but his control didn’t desert him that way in game five. Larsen needed just 97 pitches to complete his perfect game, a supremely economical performance.

“I had great control,” recalls Larsen, “I never had that kind of control in my life.”

“His stuff was good, good, good,” agreed hall of fame catcher Yogi Berra. “Anything I put down he put over.”

There were several close plays in the contest, and Larsen surely benefitted from luck to some extent, as must any pitcher who throws a perfect game.

Read the rest of this entry →

New York Mets – Anatomy of a Franchise: Part 4, Was 1969 A Fluke? 2

Posted on November 20, 2009 by Richard Marsh
After their miracle season in 1969, the Mets remained a contender for the next five years.

After their miracle season in 1969, the Mets remained a contender for the next five years.

Bob Scheffing was promoted to the Mets General Manager after the untimely death of Johnny Murphy in January 1970. The Mets had just come off their “Miracle” season of 1969 with their first Playoff, World Series and Championship in its brief seven-year history.

The two sided answer to the question, was 1969 a fluke? That would be answered in the next coming months as the Mets prepared for yet another Spring Training in St. Petersburg Florida where they shared the training facilities with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Bob Scheffing came to the Mets organization after a career as a player with a little over 500 games with the Cubs, Reds, and Cardinals. A rather pedestrian .263 career lifetime average set no fires blazing in that realm. He managed both the Cubs and the Tigers, did a little broadcasting and some scouting before becoming the Mets GM.

Read the rest of this entry →

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      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

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