New York - Iconic New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, an athlete as beloved for
his folksy sayings as for his legendary baseball career, has died, the
Yogi Berra Museum said early on Wednesday. He was 90.
The Hall of Famer and three-time Most Valuable Player died of "natural causes" late on Tuesday, the museum said in a statement.
"Yogi conducted his life with unwavering integrity, humility and a
contagious good humor that elevated him from baseball legend to beloved
national icon," the museum said.
Berra, a 15-time All Star and 10-time World Series champion, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
But the baseball great was equally well-known for humorous quips and malapropisms such as "It's deja vu all over again."
Others include such one-liners as "it ain't over till it's over" and "when you come to a fork in the road, take it."
Major League Baseball columnist Marty Noble said on the league's
online news page that "a loss that unquestionably transcends the game
has sent all of baseball into deep mourning."
Berra's museum announced his death "with a profound sense of loss and heartfelt sorrow."
His family added that "while we mourn the loss of our father,
grandfather and great-grandfather, we know he is at peace with mom."
Berra, whose real first name was Lawrence, was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1925 to Italian immigrant parents from Milan.
He began playing baseball in the American Legion leagues and it was
there that he picked up the Yogi nickname - his friend Bobby Hofman
felt he resembled a Hindu yogi when he sat around with arms and legs
crossed while waiting to bat.
Berra joined the US Navy at the age of 18 and served as a machine
gunner on the USS Bayfield during the legendary D-Day Allied invasion of
According to the Yogi Berra Museum: "He often said that his military
service in World War II was more significant to him than anything he did
on the baseball field."
He married his wife of 65 years, Carmen in 1949 and had three sons, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
He spent the majority of his 19-year career with the Yankees but also
played one season for the New York Mets. He went on to manage both New
He won the World Series a record 10 times and following his retirement, his Yankees No.8 jersey was also retired.
He was known for "doing the right thing" and a "natural tolerance" of
others, befriending Elston Howard, the team's first black player, when
he joined the Yankees in 1955. In 2013, Berra also became an ambassador
for Athlete Ally, a non-profit organisation dedicated to combating
homophobia and transphobia in sport.
Berra remained close to the Yankees throughout his life, attending spring training as an advisor until he was 87.
When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972 he said: "I want
to thank baseball. It has given me more than I could have ever hoped
for. And I hope that when I'm through with this game, I will put
Berra was known for his humour and quick wit. Here are some of his more memorable quotes:
- "It ain't over till it's over"
- "It's like deja-vu all over again"
- "It ain't the heat; it's the humility"
- "Baseball is 90 percent mental - the other half is physical"
- " I never said most of the things I said... Take it with a grin of salt"
- "If you don't know where you're going, you might end up some place else"
- "He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious"
- "You can observe a lot by watching"
- "The future ain't what it used to be"
- "Never answer an anonymous letter"
- "When you come to a fork in the road, take it"
- "I always thought that record would stand until it was broken"
- "If the world was perfect, it wouldn't be"
- "Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours"