RIP Yogi Berra, 1925-2015

24 09 2015

1963 topps Yogi

I was very sad to see an ESPN alert when I woke up yesterday with Yogi Berra’s name on it.  Before I read the full message, I guessed that he had passed away.  I’d heard that he wasn’t doing so well lately.  With Ernie Banks passing away a few months ago, that makes 2 Hall of Famers who have passed away in 2015.  While Yogi and Mr. Cub probably weren’t in the absolute highest echelon of ballplayers, they were damn close.  More importantly, they were by all accounts in the upper echelon of great human beings.  Both seemed to have a glowing personality that made others around them happier and better.

Yogi signing

Like Ernie Banks, I met Yogi in New Jersey at an autograph show.  It was a little over 4 years ago, and I could tell he was probably not going to be doing to many more autograph shows.  He was very nice, though.  Unlike a few other guys who have signed something for me, I didn’t chat at all, but he did shake my hand and smiled.  You can observe a lot by watching, though.  And he seemed like a happy-go-lucky old man, even if he was moving a little slower.  I’ve also seen him at one (at least) other baseball event I can remember, when my dad and I went to Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium in 2008.  I’m so glad we went to that game, because it was a great experience with my dad.  It was the last one at Old Yankee Stadium, and I knew that guys like Yogi and Whitey Ford only had so many more years at the Old Timers’ Day.  Yogi was, of course, the last player introduced.

Back to the autograph show, Don Larsen autographed the same ball for me.  I have been trying to figure out what to do with it.  I collect baseballs with autographs of guys with 3,000 hits and 500 homers.  But this didn’t fit into that collection.  However, I always liked Yogi and thought the World Series perfect game was a great moment in history.  I’ve been trying to decide what to do with it.  I’m toying with two ideas.  One is to get Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz, the other battery mates in a post-season no-hitter, to autograph the ball.  But they threw that no-no against my Reds, so I’m a little unsure on that one.  The other is to get the battery mates of all 6 Yankee perfect games.  This is maybe a little less concerting but also pretty daunting.

*Sep 21 - 00:05*

Regardless of all that, Yogi and his nuances will be missed in the baseball world.  He was recently mentioned by Craig Biggio in his Hall of Fame speech; that reminded me of the 1987 Topps Team Leaders card that showed Yogi with the Astros.  Naturally, he’s laughing on the card.

Yogi and Biggio

Yogi is the 11th HOF-er to pass away since I started this blog.  The future ain’t what it used to be without him in it.  Johnny Bench put it very well in the video below, where you can tell he’s choking up about Yogi, who was never a teammate but clearly impacted his life.

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