Yogi Berra, Yankees Hall of Famer, Dead at 90
Famed New York Yankees catcher and New Jersey resident Yogi Berra has died. He was 90 years old.
The three-time MVP, who holds a record 10 World Championships, had been suffering from declining health for several years. His wife of 65 years, Carmen, died in March of 2014.
Berra's death Tuesday was announced by the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, to which Berra had devoted himself in the final years of his life, according to the New York Post. He is said to have died at his home of natural causes.
One of the most quoted figures in professional sports history, Berra transformed himself from a sandlot ball player to a Major League Baseball MVP. The Yogi Berra Museum website describes the legendary player as "one of the greatest catchers and clutch hitters in the history of the game. He anchored the New York Yankees’ dynasty from the late 1940s to early ’60s, becoming a 15-time All-Star, winner of 10 world championships (most in baseball history) and three-time Most Valuable Player along the way."
Born Lawrence Peter Berra on May 12, 1925 in “The Hill” section of St. Louis, Missouri, Berra left school after eighth grade to go to work and help his family makes ends meet. During that time, he also played American Legion Baseball. The sport became his passion, but according to his museum's website, after a 1941 tryout with the hometown St. Louis Cardinals, he refused general manager Branch Rickey’s offer of $250 to sign. A year later. he signed with the Yankees Class B affiliate in Norfolk making $90 a month.
With World War II in full swing, however, Berra joined the Navy at the age of 18. According to the Yogi Berra Museum, he "volunteered for duty on a secret mission – training to operate machine guns on a 36-foot 'rocket' boat. Yogi and his five crewmates provided cover fire on Omaha Beach, softening the German defenses to support the Allied invasion during the D-Day invasion of Normandy."
Berra exchanged his Navy uniform for baseball pinstripes in 1946, when he played for the Newark Bears, the Yankees’ top minor-league team. Berra played for the Yankees from 1949-65. His teammates included fellow Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford.
In 1956, Berra caught the only perfect game in World Series history and after the last out leaped into pitcher Don Larsen's arms, according to the Associated Press.
After his playing days, Berra coached or managed the Yankees, New York Mets and Houston Astros. He led both the Yankees and Mets to pennants.
Berra was AL MVP in 1951, 1954 and 1955. He holds World Series records for most hits (71) and most games (75). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.