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TIMELINE: Yogi Berra Through the Years

By Trevor Kapp | September 23, 2015 11:31am
 Yogi Berra, the Hall-of-Fame Yankees catcher, died Tuesday night in New Jersey. He was 90.
Yogi Berra, the Hall-of-Fame Yankees catcher, died Tuesday night in New Jersey. He was 90.
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Getty Images/Nancy Ostertag

Yogi Berra, the Yankees catcher with the larger-than-life personality, died at an assisted-living facility in New Jersey Tuesday night. He was 90.

DNAinfo New York has created a timeline of the Hall-of-Fame catcher's life.


Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was born in 1925 in a predominantly Italian neighborhood called “The Hill” on St. Louis’ west side, the fourth of his parents’ five children. His mother called him Larry, but he received the nickname “Yogi” from a pal who said he resembled a Hindu yogi when he sat with his arms and legs crossed.


Berra attended South Side Catholic in St. Louis, but dropped out after the eighth grade to play amateur baseball and work odd jobs. As a teen, he tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals and was offered a contract by the team’s general manager that included a $250 signing bonus, but he never signed.


Berra’s pro career began in the minor leagues with the Norfolk Tars in 1943. He had a promising rookie season, but instead joined the Navy during World War II. He took part in the Normandy invasion and later earned a Purple Heart after being shot in the attack on Marseille.

Berra was honorably discharged in 1946 and returned to the U.S. to play for the Newark Bears, a minor league affiliate of the Yankees. After a steady first season with the club in which he hit .314, he was called up to the major leagues in September and clocked a home run in his first game.

The Berra became popular with fans and the press alike, though he was often ridiculed. “With a body that only an anthropologist could love, the 185-pound Berra could pass easily as a member of the Neanderthal A.C.,” Collier’s magazine wrote, according to The New York Times.


During the decade, Berra became one of the premiere players in baseball. He won the American League MVP award in 1951, 1954 and 1955 and helped the Yankees to six World Series titles in the 1950s.

He also garnered acclaim not just for his clutch hits but for his larger-than-life personality. Among his more notable quotes were:

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

“It ain’t the heat. It’s the humility.”

“Never answer an anonymous letter.”

“I never said most of the things I did.”


Berra finished his Yankee career as a backup catcher and even crossed town to close out his playing career with the Mets. His last game was May 9, 1965. By the time his career was finished, he was an 18-time All-Star, 13-time World Series Champion and three time American League MVP.


Berra was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. “You never think of that when you’re a kid,” he said at his ceremony, according to ESPN. “But egads, you gotta be something to get in.”

Berra was named Mets manager in 1972, but was fired in 1975. He tallied a 298-302 record during four seasons at the helm.


Berra signed on to become Yankees’ manager in 1984 and agreed to the job with reassurances he wouldn’t immediately be fired. But in 1985, he butted heads with hot-tempered owner George Steinbrenner, who axed him just 16 games into the season. Steinbrenner didn’t fire Berra face-to-face, instead sending the team’s general manager to deliver the news. “The Boss’” perceived lack of loyalty to Berra caused a rift between the two for years to come.


In 1996, he received an honorary doctorate from Montclair St. University. Two years later, the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center opened on university ground.

In 1999, Steinbrenner traveled to Berra’s New Jersey home to personally apologize to the Hall-of-Fame catcher for the way he handled his dismissal. The Yankees honored him with “Yogi Berra Day” at Yankee Stadium that summer.


Berra became a fixture at Yankee Stadium, particular at Old Timers Day, and often threw out ceremonial first pitches before playoff games.


Berra’s beloved wife, Carmen, whom he married in 1949, died in 2014 from stroke complications, according to ESPN.

On Sept. 22, 2015, Berra passed away at his West Caldwell, N.J., home.