Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (born May 12, 1925) is a former catcher and manager in Major League Baseball who played almost his entire career for the New York Yankees. He is one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times, and one of only six managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series. He currently lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
Born in an area of St. Louis called "The Hill", Berra was originally nicknamed Lawdie, a diminutive of his name Lawrence. He picked up his nickname from a friend who said he resembled a Hindu holy man (yogi) that they had seen in a movie. Young Mr. Berra apparently liked to sit on the ground while waiting for his turn to bat with his arms and legs crossed in a yoga-like position. (The Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Yogi Bear was named after Berra.) He began playing baseball in local American Legion leagues, where he learned the basics of play as a catcher. After rejecting an offer from the St. Louis Cardinals, he signed with the Yankees in 1942. His childhood friend Joe Garagiola was considered a better prospect by the Cardinals and was offered a better bonus, which led to the rejection.
Template:MLB HoF He is generally considered to be one of the best catchers in history. In two recent (2004) approaches by sabermetricians Berra is ranked first by the Bill James Win Shares method and third by the Total Baseball Total Player Rating method.
Following a spell in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he played minor league baseball with the Newark Bears before being called up for 7 games in the major leagues in 1946. The following season he played 86 games for the Yankees, and he would play more than 100 in each of the following 14 years. During his 19-year career as a Yankee, the Bronx Bombers dominated baseball, appearing in 14 World Series and winning ten championships, both of which are records. Berra himself was a 15-time All-Star, and won the league's MVP award in 1951, 1954 and 1955. He caught Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, the only no-hitter ever thrown in postseason play.
In 1946, he wore uniform number 38 on the Yankees, switching to 35 the next year. In 1948, he changed to number 8, which became well-known as his number for the rest of his career on the Yankees and Mets. The number 8 was retired in 1972 by the Yankees, jointly honoring Berra and Bill Dickey, his predecessor as the Yankees' star catcher. On August 22, 1988, he and Dickey were honored with plaques to be hung in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Berra's plaque calls him "A legendary Yankee" and cites his most frequent quote, "It ain't over till it's over."
- 1964 – New York Yankees manager (won American League pennant)
- 1965–71 – New York Mets coach
- 1972–75 – New York Mets manager (won National League pennant in 1973)
- 1976–83 – New York Yankees coach
- 1984–85 – New York Yankees manager
- 1986–92 – Houston Astros coach
In February 2005 Berra filed a lawsuit against Turner Broadcasting System. He alleges that they used his name in a racy advertisement for Sex and the City. The advertisement asks what the definition of a "yogasm" is: a) a type of yo-yo trick, (b) sex with Yogi Berra and c) what Samantha has with a guy from yoga class. The answer given was c). He is requesting $10,000,000 in damages.
Four books by Yogi Berra (with co-authors):
- ISBN 0761110909; (April 1998) The Yogi Book: 'I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said'
- ISBN 0786867752; (May 2001) When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It! Inspiration and Wisdom from One of Baseball's Greatest Heroes
- ISBN 0743237684; (October 1, 2002) What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All
- ISBN 0070969477; (April, 1989) Yogi: It Ain't Over
- Baseball Hall of Fame
- Baseball-Almanac.com - career statistics
- Yogi Berra Museum
- A list of Yogi-isms
- Yogiism as a figure of speech
- BBC News: Baseball star sues over TV advert