New York Sports Legends Profile: Yogi Berra by Christopher Halajian
It’s true that between football and baseball, Christopher Halajian would pick football. But as a native New Yorker, his loyalty lies in all of the state’s professional sports teams, be it football, basketball or baseball. And so for this post, Christopher Halajian would like to continue his series on profiles of New York’s sports legends with another baseball Hall of Famer, Yogi Berra.
For those of you who are still wondering how Lawrence Peter Berra got the moniker “Yogi,” here is the short answer: Jack Maguire. The long version, says Christopher Halajian, is that Maguire, who is a long-time friend of Berra, nicknamed him Yogi as he resembled the sitting position of a Hindu yogi whenever he sat down with arms and legs crossed (usually while waiting for his turn to bat or after losing a game). The nickname stuck, and so for most of his baseball career, Lawrence Peter Berra became known as Yogi Berra.
Yogi Berra began playing baseball with American Legion leagues. It was during this time that he learned the basics of the game and developed his skills. And in 1942, the New York Yankees signed him up. But it wasn’t until 1946 that he would play his first game with the Yankees.
His MLB debut was delayed because he had to serve in the U.S. Navy. He was a gunner’s mate on the USS Bayfield during the infamous D-Day invasion of France. During an interview, Berra mentioned that he was “fired upon” multiple times, but he never got hit. His bravery earned for him quite a few commendations.
Finally, on September 22, 1946, he played his first game with the Yankees. During his years with the Yankees, he played in over a hundred games (for 18 seasons). Leading the team to 14 World Series championship games and winning ten of them, Yogi Berra was considered as the Yankees’ lucky charm.
It was during his time with the Yankees, too, that the team participated the most in World Series games, says Christopher Halajian; further proof that Yogi was indeed the team’s lucky charm.
His professional baseball career was spent mostly with the Yankees; playing for them for 18 seasons, from 1946-1963), and then as team manager in 1964, and then again in 1984-85. He was also the Yankees’ coach from 1976 to 1983. In-between these years, he played for the Mets (1965), served as their coach from 1965-1971 and then as their manager from 1972-1975.
Yogi Berra appeared in 22 World Series games, 13 of which were on the winning team—one of the most notable records in the history of MLB.
Awards and Recognition
- 18-time All-Star (1948-1961 and 1962)
- 13-time World Series champion (1947, 1949-53, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1969, 1977, and 1978)
- 3-time AL MVP (1951, 1954, and 1955)
- New York Yankees no. 8 retired
- MLB All-Century Team
- Inducted to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 with 85.61% votes
On September 22, 2015, the world of baseball mourned the passing of Yogi Berra, shares Christopher Halajian. The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center and the Yogi Berra Stadium were established in honor of him. If you wish to visit, Christopher Halajian shares that both are located inside the premises of Montclair State University. Yogi Berra is known for catching “the only perfect game in World Series history” (Game 5, 1956 World Series).