Yogi Berra was already a legend.
Berra was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
My recollections of Berra have nothing to do with his playing days. Growing up in the 1970s, Berra was a manager and a coach during my formative years.
His 1973 Topps baseball card was one of my favorites before acquiring the 1963 card as an adult.
Two moments stand out for me with Berra.
The 1973 season when he managed the New York Mets to within one game of the world championship. The last half of the season was amazing for the Mets as they defeated my Cincinnati Reds in the National League Championship Series.
The famous scuffle between Pete Rose of the Reds and Bud Harrelson of the Mets in the NLCS was one of the most memorable moments of the 1970s. Berra was the Mets manager. After the altercation, he and other members of the team went out to the outfield to calm down the crowd and restore order.
Berra, who had managed the Mets since 1972, was let go late in the 1975 season.
By 1976, Berra was back with the New York Yankees as a coach for the team that claimed the pennant when Chris Chambliss hit his legendary walk-off homer in game five of the ALCS.
In the opener of the World Series in Cincinnati, the Yankees used Walkie-Talkies to position the fielders with Berra in the dugout.
Having used the set up during the regular season, the Commissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn had approved the plan for the World Series. After the first inning in the opener, Kuhn rescinded his ruling because the Yankees were using three people in the stands instead of just one, which was part of the approval.
The Reds went on to sweep the Yankees to win their second straight title.
In Cincinnati, the Hudepohl Brewing Company released its second commorative beer can. The Yankees made it on the can with a Walkie-Talkie as the controversy earned a place in Reds history.
Berra is one of the most accomplished players in major league history with 10 world championships in his 19-year career. He was one of two catchers on MLB’s All-Century Team in 1999, joining Johnny Bench of the Reds.
A 15-time all-star, Berra was the AL Most Valuable Player in 1951, 1954 and 1955. He appeared in 75 World Series contests and batted .274 with 12 homers and 39 RBI. He also was behind the plate for Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Berra’s first season as a manager was in 1964 when he got the Yankees to the World Series as they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. He was fired after that season and eventually joined the Mets in 1965.
He was a coach with the 1969 Miracle Mets as they beat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. Three years later, Berra would take over the Mets after Gil Hodges had died during spring training.
Berra’s last stint as a manager was in 1984 and 1985 with the Yankees. He finished his career with a 484-444 record in seven seasons with a pair of trips to the Fall Classic.