Berra’s plaque hangs in Cooperstown (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
When the final chapter of the game is written and the Pantheon of baseball greats is assembled, Lawrence Peter Berra will surely be among them. In his 18-year, Hall of Fame career as a New York Yankee, Yogi Berra was the glue of two dynasties, piloted by Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, was the preeminent catcher of his day, and remains one of the greatest backstops of all-time. However, he may not have made the Major Leagues at all had the Yankees not been willing to take a risk.
Berra, the son of Italian immigrants, grew up in St. Louis. His father was a bricklayer and viewed his son’s favorite pastime as a frivolous activity, convinced it was contributing to his poor grades, but Berra’s passion for baseball could not be quelled. After an afternoon at the sandlot, Yogi would stop at a neighbor’s home to clean up and change his clothes before heading home in order to hide his day’s transgressions.
When it ...