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New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra dies at 90

New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra dies at 90

Posted by PanamericanWorld on September 23, 2015

Legendary New York Yankees catcher and Hall of Fame inductee Yogi Berra, who was famous both for his play on the field and his witty one-liners, died at his home in New Jersey of natural causes. He was 90.

The news of his death late Tuesday night was confirmed by Dave Kaplan, the director of the Little Falls, New Jersey-based Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, which released a statement by the former baseball great's family.

"While we mourn the loss of our father, grandfather and great-grandfather, we know he is at peace with Mom," the statement said.

"We celebrate his remarkable life and are thankful he meant so much to so many. He will truly be missed."

Known as much for his pithy and head-scratching quips - called Yogi-isms - as his contributions as a player and a coach to 12 of the Yankees' 27 World Series titles, he became one of the biggest icons in the U.S. professional sports world.

Diminutive in stature and affable in appearance, Berra was a key cog in the dominant Yankee teams of the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, playing alongside fellow baseball immortals like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford and helping lead the Bronx Bombers to 14 World Series appearances in 18 seasons.

Berra holds the record for most World Series games played (75) and was named American League Most Valuable Player on three occasions - in 1951, 1954 and 1955.

But his name can be found as readily in the reference work Bartlett's Familiar Quotations as in baseball's record books.

"It ain't over till it's over," he famously said in mid-1973 as manager of the floundering New York Mets, a team that subsequently caught fire late in the season to make the playoffs and reach the World Series, eventually losing to the Oakland Athletics.

During public appearances, Berra said his Yogi-isms - among them, "it's deja-vu all over again," "you can observe a lot by watching," "nobody goes to (that restaurant) anymore; it's too crowded" - would come out unexpectedly during his conversations with his friends and family.

"When I'm sittin' down to dinner with the family, stuff just pops out. And they'll say, 'Dad, you just said another one.' And I don't even know what the heck I said."

Born Lawrence Peter Berra in St. Louis in 1925 to a family of Italian immigrants, Berra was given his nickname because his baseball buddies said his way of sitting reminded them of a Hindu yogi.

He played for the Yankees between 1949 and 1963 and called the pitches for one of the most famous games in baseball history - Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, still an unprecedented feat.

The moment when he leaped into Larsen's arms to celebrate the final out was immortalized in photographs published in newspapers worldwide.

After retiring as a player, Berra occupied different positions as a coach and manager with several teams, including the Yankees, the crosstown New York Mets and the Houston Astros. He never won a World Series as a manager but won three as a coach - in 1969 with the Mets and in 1977 and 1978 with the Yankees.

Despite his good-natured image, Berra feuded with George Steinbrenner, the late former Yankees owner known for his temperamental and impetuous style, after being fired as manager 16 games into the 1985 season.

Berra vowed he would not return to Yankee Stadium while Steinbrenner remained the owner, although the two later patched things up and the Hall of Fame catcher was honored in an on-field ceremony in July 1999.

Outside of baseball, his impact on wider American culture was seen in the creation of the family cartoon character Yogi Bear, who first appeared in 1958.

Berra, whose wife of 65 years, Carmen, died in 2014, is survived by their three sons, one of whom, Dale Berra, played in the Major Leagues.

Yogi is regarded as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history, along with Yankees great Bill Dickey and Cincinnati Reds slugger Johnny Bench, having compiled a career batting average of .285, belting 358 home runs and recording 1,430 RBI, a record for a player at his position.

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