Around 1986 I fell in love with baseball. I watched when I could (mostly Cubs and Braves since they were on cable all the time), played little league, and casually followed the New York Yankees. Something changed that summer though. Oddly enough, it involved the New York Mets, but led me down the road to being a die-hard Yankees fan. The summer of 1986 is when the New York Mets went on their magical run to the World Series. Despite being a Yankees fan, I could not help but follow the ‘Mazin Mets. To this day, I think I can name every starter from that team, but the player I loved more than all was the catcher, Gary Carter. After that summer watching “the Kid” I was determined to be a catcher. The problem was, I was very small for my age. I still tried. I bought all the gear, brought it to Babe Ruth and High School tryouts, and I wanted so bad to be like Gary Carter. I kept being told that I was too small for that position. But I do remember that someone (maybe my mom?) told me about the legendary catcher from the New York Yankees, who stood only 5’ 7″. Yogi Berra was small for a professional athlete, yet was one of the greatest to ever play catcher. As much as I wanted to be like Gary Carter, I really wanted to be like Yogi. I still have a fondness for the ’86 Mets, but around that time I fell in love with Yogi and the incredible history of the New York Yankees. I was hooked from that point on, and have never turned back.
If nothing else, the story of Yogi Berra can tell us that no matter what, you can do whatever you want. Yogi was small, yet lived a life that many of us would dream of – World War II hero, 10 time World Series Champ, Hall of Famer, and probably most importantly – known as an incredible friend and all around great human being.
I never made it as a catcher – I was barely even good at baseball period – but Yogi inspired me to try. Rest In Peace Yogi, you will be missed.
Since it is Yogi’s 85th birthday, I figured I would dedicate my first post on the MLBlog network to him!
Because of my age (37) I never saw Yogi play, and was barely interested in baseball when he last managed the Yanks in ’84 and ’85. My first memories of him came from his famous “Yogi-isms”. As I grew older and my love for both baseball and the Yanks grew stronger, I appreciated Yogi as a player more and more. I still remember vividly Yogi and George Steinbrenner finally ending their longstanding feud in 1999 with him being awarded “Yogi Berra Day” on July 18th, with the festivities being capped off with David Cone‘s perfect game. Definitely one of my favorite Yankees moments.
If you are a fan of Yogi like I am, you should check out his web site if you never have.
Happy Birthday Yogi!