No. 45: Yogi Berra
I really can’t say much more about Yogi Berra than I did here. But I did want to throw out a few numbers to demonstrate the wonder of Yogi’s life:
One. Where Bill James ranks him on the all-time list of catchers.
Two. Number of tries to get elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The first year, 1971, Berra got just 67.2% of the vote. For me, this remains one of the strangest Hall of Fame votes in the history of the museum. I cannot quite figure out how it happened. There were 14 players on the ballot who were eventually inducted into the Hall; none were elected that year.
Three. Number of MVP awards Yogi won. Did he deserve them? There has long been debate about that; there’s a pretty strong argument for Ted Williams in 1951, for Minnie Minoso or Williams in 1954 and for Mickey Mantle or Al Kaline in 1955. This is what makes the Hall of Fame voting so strange. The writers LOVED Yogi, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.
Four. The number of slices Yogi had a pizza cut into because he wasn’t hungry enough for six.
Eight. Yogi’s uniform number. But the number eight also belonged to Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey. The Yankees retired the number in both men’s name.
Ten. Number of World Series Yogi Berra won as a player.
Eleven. Number of times Yogi Berra hit 20-plus homers in a season. Also number of grandchildren he has.
Twelve. Number of times Yogi Berra struck out in 656 plate appearances during the 1950 season. “It ain’t a bad ball if you can hit it,” Berra would say of his reputation as a bad-ball hitter.
Thirteen. Here’s something that will blow your mind: From 1957 through 1981, New York teams — Yankees and Mets — appeared in 13 World Series. Yogi Berra was a player, coach or manager on every single one of them.
Twenty one. Number of World Series Yogi appeared in as a coach or manager or player.
Seventy three. The year Yogi said some approximation of “It Ain’t Over ’Til It’s Over” referring to the 1973 Mets.
Ninety. Percent of the game that is mental. The other half is physical.
Two hundred. The number used when Jimmy Piersall barked that if the pitcher threw at him, he would beat said pitcher into submission. “We don’t throw at .200 hitters,” Yogi said.