Multiple media outlets reported the death of baseball great Yogi Berra at age 90 on September 22. Many are familiar with his hilarious quotations that made us rethink the obvious. His folksy charm overshadowed his baseball greatness, which we’ll cover in a minute. But first, here’s a little known fact about him that makes him a true American hero.
Of all the things he said, he rarely shared this. Before ascending to baseball greatness, Seaman First Class Lawrence Peter Berra defended our troops as they stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He sat down to discuss it with then-MSNBC reporter Keith Olbermann in an interview for the 60th anniversary of the invasion. On D-Day, the 18-year-old Berra set up in a boat with his fellow sailors about 300 yards off the beach to provide cover to the troops. He had been ordered to shoot down any planes flying below the clouds. Even describing that landmark date in history, Yogi remained true to himself, as shown by this quote:
Well, being a young guy, I thought it was like the Fourth of July, to tell you the truth. I said, “Boy, it looks pretty, all the planes coming over.” And I was looking out and my officer said, “You better get your head down in here, if you want it on.”
People forget how truly gifted Berra was. He was also blessed with legendary Yankees teammates in the golden era of that franchise. His career stretched from 1943 to 1963, including the WWII interruption. He played in 14 World Series. He holds World Series records for most games by a catcher (63), hits (71)—including the record for most doubles—and he hit the first pinch-hit home run in 1947. Most importantly, he enjoys the record for most World Series-winning teams (10). He earned American League MVP in 1951, 1954, and 1955.
What a glorious career!
Unmatched Wit and Wisdom
You can’t say anything about Yogi without saying what he said:
- “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
- “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
- “When you come to a fork in the road…take it.”
- “I want to thank you for making this day necessary.”
- “You can observe a lot by watching.”
- “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
- “It gets late early out here.”
- “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
We celebrate Yogi Berra for his quiet service, his athletic prowess, and his tongue-in-cheek look at life. In doing so, we give thanks for all those who add color to our lives.