Yankee History: A love affair, the special bond between Phil and Yogi

New York Yankees, Yogi Berra

Yesterday would have been the 104th birthday for New York Yankee great Phil Rizzuto. It got me thinking about an article I wrote nearly two years ago. So I thought it would be appropriate to share it with you again today.

Over the years, the New York Yankees have had hundreds of players who developed special bonds.  But none more significant than the love between Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra.  No, not that kind of love, but love created by similarities, playing together, and a life shared.

Phil Rizzuto was a small man, much like Yogi Berra that may have been what connected them, to begin with.  Both short for baseball.  Phil was 5′ 6″ and Yogi 5′ 7″, neither were expected to be great ballplayers, but both ended up in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Phil burst onto the baseball scene when he replaced Frank Crosetti in 1941 as the new New York Yankee shortstop. Rizzuto had a 13-year career with the Yankees and a .273 career batting average while a five-time All-Star, an eight-time MVP candidate winning the award in 1950.

Yogi Berra being eight years younger than Phil, made his major league debut as the Yankee backstop in 1946 and played through 1963.  Yogi was an amazing player for a little guy.  His career batting average was .285. Unlike Phil, Yogi was a home run hitter, hitting 358 in his eighteen years as a Yankee.  Yogi had his share of awards as well, 18 All-Stars, 15 MVPs winning it three times.  During the years between 1946 and 1956, the two played together and formed a very close bond.  Both got married, and both had children, Phil four and Yogi three.  During their lives, the families often spend time together off the field as well.

Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra are two of the most rewarded players in all of baseball.  They had 23 All-Star selections, 23 MVP nominations, and the two won the MVP 4 times between them. In addition, together, they collected 17 World Championship rings.

In 1956 that year, Gil McDougald, who had played third base and second base, moved to shortstop, hit .311, and stayed there, and even Phil admitted he was out of a job.  Now Phil and Yogi were no longer playing together.  Yogi would go on to manage the Yankees after he left his playing days.  Yogi, like Phil, was unceremoniously removed from his job when owner George Steinbrenner fired him from his managerial job, causing a rift between the two that wasn’t corrected until George apologized to Yogi in 1999.  During all this time, the two friends remained as close as ever.  The Yankees in 1999 celebrated his career with Yogi Berra Day at Yanke Stadium.

The similarity between the two was more than their statures.  Their personalities were nearly the same.  They both were full of fun and characters in their own ways.  Yogi had an uneducated way of talking that endeared himself to fans.  His Yogisms were world-known.  Phrases like “it’s not over until it’s over,”  “when you get to a fork in the road, take it,” and many, many more.  Meanwhile, Phil had become a folksy broadcaster for Yankee games.  A storytelling and jokes player Rizutto broadcasted Yankee games for 40 years after he retired from baseball. Who could forget those “Holy Cow” game calls?

In the years that followed, the only winner of a perfect game in a World Series, Don Larsen, Phil Rizzuto, and Yogi Berra became the beloved elder statesman of New York Yankee baseball.  They always headlined the Old Timer’s Day celebration at the Stadium.  One thing that never changed was the bond between Phil and Yogi.  On August 13, 2007, Phil Rizzuto passed away.  In the Yankee booth, Yogi expressed his sorrow of Phil’s passing with tears running down his cheeks a few days later.

After Phil died, Yogi remained close to Phil’s wife, Cora.  She, too, died in 2010.  Yogi’s wife Carmen died on March 6, 2014.  Yogi had lost the three most influential people in his life other than his children.  It may have been too much for Yogi to bear as he passed away shortly after that on September 22, 2015, at the age of 90.  The entire Yankee faithful shed tears upon each passing, for they felt they had lost a family member.  Even though you may have never met Phil or Yogi, you felt like you knew them as what you saw is what you got.  There was nothing phony about either of them.

Older fans are well aware of the love Phil and Yogi had for each other. However, some younger members may not.  To further demonstrate their devotion to each other, When Phil was in ailing health, and near the end of his life, he was living at an assisted living facility.  Every morning Yogi would get up and drive to the nearby home and play cards with Phil, holding his hand until the day he died.  This writer does not know of another bond so close in the baseball world.

Both Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto may have passed from this world but not from our hearts and memories.  Today they are both enshrined at Yankee Stadium and in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The following is a video of the YES Network’s interview with Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay shortly after Yogi Berra died.  He explains the special love between these two players. WARNING: This may cause you to tear up.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

 

 

New York Yankee Legends: Yogi Berra would be 96 today

Today, New York Yankees‘ Yogi Berra would have turned 96 years old. Today, Linsay Berra, Yogi’s granddaughter, posted this accompanying photo and this statement on her Twitter account.
Grampa said, “It’s deja vu all over again,” and nothing represents that more than a birthday. On what would have been Grampa’s 96th, here’s a cute pic of us from 1991, when he was a youngster of 66 and I was just 14. Happy, Happy Birthday, Gramp! Miss you tons.

Lawrence Peter Yogi Berra was one of the most popular New York Yankees of all time. With all the discussion on who will be the Yankee catcher next season, I thought it would be appropriate to look at one of the Yankees’ most iconic catchers. Yogi was a long-time catcher, coach, and manager for the Yankees. Berra was born in 1925 to immigrant parents Pietro and Paolina Berra in the Italian neighborhood of the “Hill” in St. Louis, Missouri. His real name was Lorenzo Pietro Berra. To fans, he was just “Yogi.”

He learned how to catch while playing baseball on the local American Legion baseball team. While playing there, friend Jack McGuire saw a newsreel about India, and he noticed that the Yogi’s sat with their arms and hands crossed, the same as Berra. He began calling him Yogi, and the nickname stuck. After playing for the legion teams, The Yankees signed Yogi for a $500 bonus, but the War intervened. In the Navy, Berra was a gunner’s mate and was involved in the U.S. assault on Omaha Beach. He was also sent to Utah Beach during the D-day invasion. After the war, he received several commendations for his bravery.

Berra was a short guy for baseball norms, but he surprised everyone with his talent during his short time in the minor league Newark Bears. He was called up by the Yankees late in the 1946 season but only played in seven games.   In 1947, he played 87 games.

In the next fourteen years, the Yankees reached the World Series fourteen times and won it all ten years.  Berra caught in more than 100 games a year in that span. Berra established records for the most at-bats, 259 hits, 71 doubles, ten singles, and 457 putouts in World Series play.

During his career, he was selected to 18 All-Star games, was American League MVP in 1951. 54 and 55. He never finished in the voting lower than fourth throughout his career. To give an example of just how good he was, he was on teams with Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, yet Berra led in RBI’s seven consecutive seasons. One of the reasons is that he had the ability to hit balls outside of the strike zone. He was also powerful for a small man; he once caught a 22 inning game, which takes tremendous endurance. Being a short guy, it was natural that he would befriend fellow player Phil Rizzuto who was the team’s short shortstop.

During Berra’s best run, from 1950-1956, he averaged 144 games a year and maintained a .295/.365/.502 line. He led the league in games caught in every one of those seasons and led the league in runners caught stealing in the first three of them. He won all three of his MVPs in that span.   Yogi Berra was a notorious bad-ball hitter known for being impossible to strike out; he was fanned only 166 times over those seven seasons combined.  Think about that 166 times in seven seasons.  By comparison, Aaron Judge struck out 208 times in one year (2017). Yankee catcher Gary Sanchez has struck out 396 in just the four years ending in 2019.

After Berra retired as a player after the 1963 World Series, he was immediately made Manager of the Yankees, just one of many coaching jobs he would hold until he again Managed the Yankees for George Steinbrenner. In 1984 agreed to an extension into 1985 with the assurance that George would not fire him. Well, sixteen games into the season, George fired him and didn’t even do it in person. This created a huge rift, and Yogi was absent from Yankee Stadium for over fourteen years

. As George aged, he realized that he wronged Yogi and arranged a meeting.  Yogi agreed to it at Yogi’s New Jersey home, and they patched things up. On July 18, 1999, George arranged a Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium honoring the former catcher. On that same day, David Cone pitched his perfect game with Don Larsen in the stands. Yogi caught Don Larsen’s perfect game. From that time on, Yogi was a fixture at Yankee Stadium and became everyone’s Grandfather.  Yogi made his last appearance at Old Timer’s Day in June of 2015.

In 1998, Yogi opened the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on the grounds of Montclair State University. There was also a baseball stadium named after him. Berra had three sons with his wife, Carmen. In 2012 due to Carmen’s declining health, they moved into an assisted living facility where Yogi would live until his death. In 2014, Carmen passed away. Previous to that, his closest friend Phil Rizutto died. The two people closest to him had died.

Yogi Berra will be remembered as a great catcher and baseball player. Still, he will also be fondly remembered for his Yogi-isms. a series of delightful aphorisms about baseball and life in general, quotes like, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded,” “90% of baseball is mental, the other 50% is physical”, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it,” “It ain’t over til it’s over,” and “you can observe a lot by watching.” Those are just a few of the wonderful Yogi-isms that are still quoted today.  One day Yogi was asked about his Yogi-isms; he in his way with words: “I never said most of the things I said.”

Yogi Berra is one of the most honored Yankee baseball legends.  He was an All-Star 18 times; no other catcher in baseball has approached that. He was an MVP candidate 15 times while winning the prestigious award three times.  No other catcher in baseball has ever won the MVP three times. His museum displays his 10 World Series rings, which are more than any other baseball player in history. He won three more championships as a coach, including an astonishing 21 total World Series appearances as a player, coach, or manager.  During his eighteen-year career, he amassed  2,148 hits, 358 home runs, and 1,430 RBI’s while hitting a career .285 batting average.  I was lucky enough to watch Yogi’s career, and a great one it was.

After leaving the Yankees, he became a coach for the cross-town New York Mets.  He served under Casey Stengel, Wes Westum, and Gil Hodges for seven seasons, including the Mets’ 1969 World Series win.  During spring training in 1972, Gil Hodges suddenly died, and Berra was made manager. Although he was a successful manager, Berra’s tenure as the Mets manager ended with his firing on August 5, 1975. He had a record of 298 wins and 302 losses, which included the 1973 postseason. In 1976, he rejoined the New York Yankees as a coach.   During that time, the Yankees won the Fall Classic in 1977 and 1978. Berra was again named Yankee manager before the 1984 season and was quickly fired, leading to the aforementioned riff with owner George M. Steinbrenner that lasted for fourteen years.

In 1985 Berra signed with the Houston Astros as a bench coach and led the team to the NLCS in 1986.  Berra stayed with the Astros completing the 1989 season. He finished his managerial career with a regular-season record of 484–444 and a playoff record of 9–10. Yogi Berra was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.  In the same year, his Yankee number 8 was retired with a Monument Park plaque at Yankee Stadium.

Sixty-nine years to the day after Yogi joined the Yankees, he passed away in his sleep at 90 in 2015. All of New York mourned. The empire state building was lighted in pinstripes, The Yankees wore “8” on their sleeves, flags flew at half-mast from New York to his birthplace in St. Louis, and a moment of silence was honored at major league games throughout the country. In 2015 President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Yogi with Presidential Medal of Freedom. In Berra’s place, his son Larry Berra accepted the medal.

Yogi Berra, the unlikely baseball Icon and folk hero, lived his long life, on and off the field, with uncommon humility.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees: Yankee Legend Yogi Berra to be honored with postage stamp

The United States Postal Service announced that New York Yankees would be featured on a postage stamp this year. Major League Baseball All-Star Yogi Berra was widely known for his colorful comments. Today, he receives a new distinction as the U.S. Postal Service announces several additional stamps to be issued in 2021. It features him, science fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin, and artist Emilio Sanchez.

The USPS, in announcing the stamp included the short biography: Honoring Yogi Berra (1925-2015), this stamp salutes one of the best and most celebrated baseball players of his era, winning a record 10 World Series with the New York Yankees. The stamp art is an original digital portrait of Berra dressed in his Yankees cap, pinstripes, and catcher’s chest protector. Considered the best catcher in the American League in the 1950s, he was also a feared hitter, and in 1972 was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Antonio Alcalá was the art director and stamp designer. Charles Chaisson was the artist. Michael Doret created the “Yogi Berra” lettering.

Linsay Berra, Yogi’s granddaughter tweeted on her Twitter account:

The USPS just announced Grampa will be on a Forever stamp in 2021. So exciting!

Lawrence Peter Yogi Berra was one of the most popular New York Yankees of all time. With all the discussion on who will be the Yankee catcher next season, I thought it would be appropriate to look at one of the Yankees’ most iconic catchers. Yogi was a long time catcher, coach, and manager for the Yankees. Berra was born in 1925 to immigrant parents Pietro and Paolina Berra in the Italian neighborhood of the “Hill” in St. Louis, Missouri. His real name was Lorenzo Pietro Berra. To fans, he was just “Yogi.”

After Berra retired as a player after the 1963 World Series, he was immediately made Manager of the Yankees, just one of many coaching jobs he would hold until he again Managed the Yankees for George Steinbrenner. In 1984 agreed to an extension into 1985 with the assurance that George would not fire him. Well, sixteen games into the season, George fired him and didn’t even do it in person. This created a huge rift, and Yogi was absent from Yankee Stadium for over fourteen years. As George aged, he realized that he wronged Yogi and arranged a meeting.  Yogi agreed to it at Yogi’s New Jersey home, and they patched things up. On July 18, 1999, George arranged a Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium honoring the former catcher. On that same day, David Cone pitched his perfect game with Don Larsen in the stands. Yogi caught Don Larsen’s perfect game. From that time on, Yogi was a fixture at Yankee Stadium and became everyone’s Grandfather.  Yogi made his last appearance at Old Timer’s Day in June of 2015.

In 1998, Yogi opened the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on Montclair State University’s grounds. There was also a baseball stadium named after him. Berra had three sons with his wife, Carmen. In 2012 due to Carmen’s declining health, they moved into an assisted living facility where Yogi would live until his death. In 2014, Carmen passed away. Previous to that, his closest friend Phil Rizutto died. The two people closest to him had died.

Yogi Berra will be remembered as a great catcher and baseball player. Still, he will also be fondly remembered for his Yogi-isms. a series of delightful aphorisms about baseball and life in general, quotes like, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded,” “90% of baseball is mental, the other 50% is physical”, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it,” “It ain’t over til it’s over,” and “you can observe a lot by watching.” Those are just a few of the wonderful Yogi-isms that are still quoted today.  One day Yogi was asked about his Yogi-isms, he in his way with words: “I never said most of the things I said.”

Yogi Berra is one of the most honored Yankee baseball legends.  He was an All-Star 18 times; no other catcher in baseball has approached that. He was an MVP candidate 15 times while winning the prestigious award three times.  No other catcher in baseball has ever won the MVP three times. His museum displays his 10 World Series rings, which is more than any other baseball player in history. He won three more championships as a coach, including an astonishing 21 total World Series appearances as a player, coach, or manager.  During his eighteen-year career, he amassed  2,148 hits, 358 home runs, and 1,430 RBI’s while hitting a career .285 batting average.  I was lucky enough to watch Yogi’s career, and a great one it was.

After leaving the Yankees, he became a coach for the cross-town New York Mets.  He served under Casey Stengel, Wes Westum, and Gil Hodges for seven seasons, including the Mets’ 1969 World Series win.  During spring training in 1972, Gil Hodges suddenly died, and Berra was made manager. Although he was a successful manager, Berra’s tenure as the Mets manager ended with his firing on August 5, 1975. He had a record of 298 wins and 302 losses, which included the 1973 postseason. In 1976, he rejoined the New York Yankees as a coach.   During that time, the Yankees won the Fall Classic in 1977 and 1978. Berra was again named Yankee manager before the 1984 season and was quickly fired, leading to the aforementioned riff with owner George M. Steinbrenner that lasted for fourteen years.

In 1985 Berra signed with the Houston Astros as a bench coach and led the NLCS team in 1986.  Berra stayed with the Astros completing the 1989 season. He finished his managerial career with a regular-season record of 484–444 and a playoff record of 9–10. Yogi Berra was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.  In the same year, his Yankee number 8 was retired with a Monument Park plaque at Yankee Stadium.

Sixty-nine years after Yogi joined the Yankees, he passed away in his sleep at 90 in 2015. All of New York mourned. The empire state building was lighted in pinstripes, The Yankees wore “8” on their sleeves, flags flew at half-mast from New York to his birthplace in St. Louis, and a moment of silence was honored at major league games throughout the country. In 2015 President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Yogi with Presidential Medal of Freedom. In Berra’s place, his son Larry Berra accepted the medal.

Yogi Berra, the unlikely baseball Icon and folk hero, lived his long life, on and off the field, with uncommon humility.

 

New York Yankees Legends: Yogi Berra, a historic career,”it ain’t over till it’s over.”

New York Yankees, Yogi Berra

Lawrence Peter Yogi Berra was one of the most popular New York Yankees of all time. With all the discussion on who will be the Yankee catcher next season, I thought it would be appropriate to look at one of the Yankees’ most iconic catchers. Yogi was a long time catcher, coach, and manager for the Yankees. Berra was born in 1925 to immigrant parents Pietro and Paolina Berra in the Italian neighborhood of the “Hill” in St. Louis, Missouri. His real name was Lorenzo Pietro Berra. To fans, he was just “Yogi.”

He learned how to catch while playing baseball in the local American Legion baseball team. While playing there, friend Jack McGuire saw a newsreel about India, and he noticed that the Yogi’s sat with their arms and hands crossed, the same as Berra. He began calling him Yogi, and the nickname stuck. After playing for the legion teams, The Yankees signed Yogi for a $500 bonus, but the War intervened. In the Navy, Berra was a gunner’s mate and was involved in the U.S. assault on Omaha Beach. He was also sent to Utah Beach during the D-day invasion. After the war, he received several commendations for his bravery.

Berra was a short guy for baseball norms, but he surprised everyone with his talent during his short time in the minor league Newark Bears. He was called up by the Yankees late in the 1946 season but only played in seven games.   In 1947, he played in 87 games.

In the next fourteen years, the Yankees reached the World Series fourteen times and won it all ten years.  Berra caught in more than 100 games a year in that span. Berra established records for the most at-bats, 259 hits, 71 doubles, ten singles, and 457 put outs in World Series play.

During his career, he was selected to 18 All-Star games, was American League MVP in 1951. 54 and 55. He never finished in the voting lower than fourth throughout his career. To give an example of just how good he was, he was on teams with Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, yet Berra led in RBI’s seven consecutive seasons. One of the reasons is that he had the ability to hit balls outside of the strike zone. He was also very strong for a small man; he once caught a 22 inning game, which takes tremendous endurance. Being a short guy, it was natural that he would befriend fellow player Phil Rizzuto who was the team’s short shortstop.

During Berra’s best run, from 1950-1956, he averaged 144 games a year and maintained a .295/.365/.502 line. He led the league in games caught in every one of those seasons and led the league in runners caught stealing in the first three of them. He won all three of his MVPs in that span.   Yogi Berra was a notorious bad-ball hitter known for being impossible to strike out; he was fanned only 166 times over those seven seasons combined.  Think about that 166 times in seven seasons.  By comparison, Aaron Judge struck out 208 times in one year (2017). Yankee catcher Gary Sanchez has struck out 396 in just the four years ending in 2019.

After Berra retired as a player after the 1963 World Series, he was immediately made Manager of the Yankees, just one of many coaching jobs he would hold until he again Managed the Yankees for George Steinbrenner. In 1984 agreed to an extension into 1985 with the assurance that George would not fire him. Well, sixteen games into the season, George fired him and didn’t even do it in person. This created a huge rift, and Yogi was absent from Yankee Stadium for over fourteen years. As George aged, he realized that he wronged Yogi and arranged a meeting.  Yogi agreed to it at Yogi’s New Jersey home, and they patched things up. On July 18, 1999, George arranged a Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium honoring the former catcher. On that same day, David Cone pitched his perfect game with Don Larsen in the stands. Yogi caught Don Larsen’s perfect game. From that time on, Yogi was a fixture at Yankee Stadium and became everyone’s Grandfather.  Yogi made his last appearance at Old Timer’s Day in June of 2015.

In 1998, Yogi opened the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on the grounds of Montclair State University. There was also a baseball stadium named after him. Berra had three sons with his wife, Carmen. In 2012 due to Carmen’s declining health, they moved into an assisted living facility where Yogi would live until his death. In 2014, Carmen passed away. Previous to that, his closest friend Phil Rizutto died. The two people closest to him had died.

Yogi Berra will be remembered as a great catcher and baseball player. Still, he will also be fondly remembered for his Yogi-isms. a series of delightful aphorisms about baseball and life in general, quotes like, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded,” “90% of baseball is mental, the other 50% is physical”, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it,” “It ain’t over til it’s over,” and “you can observe a lot by watching.” Those are just a few of the wonderful Yogi-isms that are still quoted today.  One day Yogi was asked about his Yogi-isms, he in his way with words: “I never said most of the things I said.”

Yogi Berra is one of the most honored Yankee baseball legends.  He was an All-Star 18 times; no other catcher in baseball has approached that. He was an MVP candidate 15 times while winning the prestigious award three times.  No other catcher in baseball has ever won the MVP three times. His museum displays his 10 World Series rings, which is more than any other baseball player in history. He won three more championships as a coach, including an astonishing 21 total World Series appearances as a player, coach, or manager.  During his eighteen-year career, he amassed  2,148 hits, 358 home runs, and 1,430 RBI’s while hitting a career .285 batting average.  I was lucky enough to watch Yogi’s career, and a great one it was.

After leaving the Yankees, he became a coach for the cross-town New York Mets.  He served under Casey Stengel, Wes Westum, and Gil Hodges for seven seasons, including the Mets’ 1969 World Series win.  During spring training in 1972, Gil Hodges suddenly died, and Berra was made manager. Although he was a successful manager, Berra’s tenure as the Mets manager ended with his firing on August 5, 1975. He had a record of 298 wins and 302 losses, which included the 1973 postseason. In 1976, he rejoined the New York Yankees as a coach.   During that time, the Yankees won the Fall Classic in 1977 and 1978. Berra was again named Yankee manager before the 1984 season and was quickly fired, leading to the aforementioned riff with owner George M. Steinbrenner that lasted for fourteen years.

In 1985 Berra signed with the Houston Astros as a bench coach and led the team to the NLCS in 1986.  Berra stayed with the Astros completing the 1989 season. He finished his managerial career with a regular-season record of 484–444 and a playoff record of 9–10. Yogi Berra was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.  In the same year, his Yankee number 8 was retired with a Monument Park plaque at Yankee Stadium.

Sixty-nine years to the day after Yogi joined the Yankees, he passed away in his sleep at 90 in 2015. All of New York mourned. The empire state building was lighted in pinstripes, The Yankees wore “8” on their sleeves, flags flew at half-mast from New York to his birthplace in St. Louis, and a moment of silence was honored at major league games throughout the country. In 2015 President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Yogi with Presidential Medal of Freedom. In Berra’s place, his son Larry Berra accepted the medal.

Yogi Berra, the unlikely baseball Icon and folk hero, lived his long life, on and off the field, with uncommon humility.

New York Yankees: All-Time Starting Lineup/Bench

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

Most of these players contributed to the 27 World Series rings that the New York Yankees franchise has won. From World Series MVPs to record-breaking statistics, these players have done it all in the sport of baseball.

All-Time Starting Lineup/Bench

1. SS Derek Jeter

Jeter played all 20 seasons of his career for the Yankees and was one of 15 captains in New York Yankees history. He deserved to be the second unanimous hall of fame player but fell one vote short.

He had 650 1st-pitch hits, indicating he was aggressive at the plate, which makes a perfect leadoff hitter for this team.

2. LF Joe DiMaggio

A 56-game hitting streak is Dimaggio’s most popular call to fame, however, he did make the all-star team all 13 years of his career.

He hit over .300 in 11 out of 13 years at the highest stage, which is almost never seen in today’s baseball.

To top it all off, he served his country in WWII for three years.

3. RF Babe Ruth

“The Bambino” was the greatest display of power in the early 20th century and no one will forget when he “called his shot.”

His 714 home runs have kept him among the top three home run hitters for almost a century. He has the best slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+ of all-time as well.

He is arguably the best all-around hitter ever and needs to be in the middle of this lineup.

4. 1B Lou Gehrig

He and Ruth were the best one-two punch of their era, if Ruth did not drive in the runs one game, Gehrig would put the “cleanup” in “cleanup hitter” and drive in the runs himself.

In 1931, Gehrig drove in 185 runs, which is the second-most for a single season in history, behind Hack Wilson, who drove in 191 runs a year prior.

Gehrig also won the triple crown in 1934, meaning he led the American League in home runs, RBIs, and batting average, a feat that only a few players have achieved in their careers.

5. CF Mickey Mantle

Following in DiMaggio’s footsteps, Mantle, led the New York Yankees to seven World Series titles. He won the triple crown in 1956, paving the way for his first MVP award.

Mantle was arguably one of the first five-tool players in baseball, as he led the American League in many batting categories, in a single season, at some point in his career and even won a gold glove award.

Behind Babe Ruth, Mantle is second on the all-time Yankees home run list.

6. 3B Alex Rodriguez

Although his best years were for the Texas Rangers, A-Rod won two MVPs as the Yankees’ third baseman.

Yes, he did admit to using steroids, but he was still one of the most feared hitters in baseball for almost two decades.

7. C Yogi Berra

Berra, won three MVPs, 10 World Series rings, meaning he has one for each finger, not even Tom Brady has reached that level of success.

Between his “Yogisms” and serving in WWII, he did all you can ask for of a man and a baseball player. He is the textbook definition of a legend in the game of baseball.

8. 2B Tony Lazzeri

There is an argument to have Robinson Cano in this lineup, however, Lazzeri’s Yankees tenure was longer and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He also helped the historic teams of the 1920s and 30s win five World Series titles.

9. P Whitey Ford

This is just to fill a hole in the lineup without a DH, if there had to be a DH, a case could be made for Don Mattingly, Graig Nettles, or Dave Winfield, cannot go wrong with any of these players.

Ford was arguably the best pitcher in Yankees history and would be the opening day starter for this team.

Bench:

C Bill Dickey

He was Yogi Berra’s predecessor and helped the Yankees win seven World Series rings. An 11-time all-star and a hall of fame inductee earn his spot on this team.

1B/OF Don Mattingly

His best season was 1986 when he hit 53 doubles. Mattingly is a great pinch-hit option off the bench.

2B Robinson Cano

Cano got the assist on the final out of 2009 World Series game 6, which one the Yankees first World Series since 2000. He played all but one game that season and became a big part of the New York Yankees team in the early 2010s.

He is the only active player on this team, but his spot is well deserved.

3B Graig Nettles

Nettles led the American League in home runs in 1976, with 32. He is a fan favorite of the ’70s Yankees teams and needs to be on this team.

OF Dave Winfield

Last, but not least, Winfield had one of the best arms of any right-fielder ever. He would rack up double-digit outfield assist seasons a bunch of times in his career.

He also had middle-of-the-lineup production at the plate during his career, making him the perfect player to round out this team.

New York Yankees Top 10s: The best Yankee Catchers, find out here

New York Yankees, Yogi Berra

The New York Yankees are the most celebrated baseball team in all of MLB.  It is also the most hated; it’s according to which team you’re rooting for.  There is one thing that can not be denied, and that is that the Yankees have had some of the best baseball players over the years ever to play the game.  Included in that list is a glorious history for great backstops.

The Yankees have not had a lot of catchers as they have had luck in keeping catchers for long periods. The catcher is the one of the most important players on the field.  While he is manning his position, he is at the same time the field manager directing the game. Today we take a look at my arbitrary picks for the top 10 in Yankee history.

10. Brian McCann

Brain McCann only played three years for the New York Yankees from 2014 to 2016.  His greatest attribute was that he was a workhorse catching in almost all games during his time with the team. He averaged 135 games a year.   He had a powerful arm and had an outstanding .993 fielding percentage.  For the Yankees, he was a three Silver Slugger and MVP candidate.

9. Joe Girardi

Joe Girardi is often overlooked at one of the best Yankee Catchers, but he places number 9 on this list.  He is most responsible for grooming another great Yankee catcher Jorge Posada.  Also, Girardi is the only pitcher in Yankee history to call two perfect games.   He caught for David Wells in 1998 and David Cone in 1999.  That is proof of outstanding game calling for a catcher.  Joe Girardi would go on to manage the Yankees from 2008 to 2017 winning a World Series for the Yankees in 2009.

8. Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez is still a work in progress but has the ability to move himself far up this list.  Sanchez is not the best defensive man at his position but has improved and can be a powerhouse.  In his projected career he could be the best hitting on this list.  Only time will tell.  His biggest obstacle is his injury history.  When healthy, he could hit upwards to 50 home runs a season.  In the past four years, he has hit 105 home runs while only playing in  370 games.  The secret to Sanchez’s success will be his ability to stay on the field.

7. Mike Stanley

Mike Stanley played for the New York Yankees between 1992 and 1995.  He played for five teams in his 15-year career but had his best years with the Yankees.  He was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and an MVP candidate, and of course an excellent game caller.  Stanley hit 72 home runs while hitting .285 during his time with the Yankees.

6. Wally Schang

Wally Schang held down the backstop position for the New York Yankees from 1921 to 1925.  During that time he hit .297 for the Yankees.  This excellent backstop was not a home run hitter but was a doubles machine with a .796 OPS.  He was also an MVP candidate twice while being a Yankee. Coming from the Boston Red Sox he played for three other teams in his 19-year career.

5. Jorge Posada

Jorge, because he only recently retired, is known by most Yankee fans.  Posada was the backup catcher during the 1996 and 1997 seasons.  He became the Yankees primary catcher in 1998 and served in the backstop position until 2011 when Russell Martin replaced him.  Posada was a homegrown member of the “Core Four” consisting of he, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera.  The reason he is included with these great Yankee catchers is mostly that he was a double threat from both sides of the plate.  Defensively he may not stack up to the others featured, but he had an excellent put out rate and was known for his offense.  He helped the Yankees to four World Championships. In his career, he hit 275 home runs while having a .273 career batting average.

Posada was a five-time All-Star and Silver Slugger.  He was also a two-time MVP candidate.  The Yankees retired Posada’s jersey number 20 on August 22, 2015.  For the time being, Posada will not be elected to the Hall of Fame as in 2017, he fell below the 5% votes needed to remain on the ballot.  His only chance of induction is to be considered by the ERAS Committee, who decide on players no longer eligible for election by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

4. Elston Howard

It wasn’t until 1955 that the Yankees had a black player. That player was Elston Howard. The Yankees waited for one to come along, who was The Yankee type. Kind, quiet, and a gentleman. It gained him complete acceptance from every Yankee. Elston Howard might have been the greatest defensive catcher the New York Yankees ever had. In 1964, he set American League records for putouts and total chances in a season. “Ellie’s” .993 fielding percentage stood as a major league record until1973. He was the American League MVP in 1963, becoming the first black MVP in American League history.

Howard helped the Yankees win ten pennants and six World Championships. The very popular Howard was an All-Star 12 times, a Gold Glove Award winner twice, an MVP nominee five times winning the MVP award once. Many believe that being in the shadow Berra during most of his career may have kept him from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Howard has a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

3. Thurmon Munson

The story of Thurmon Munson is a story of greatness and sadness.  Munson was the catcher for the Yankees from 1970 to 1979.  He was a great defensive catcher with a putout rate better than most MLB catchers with his accurate and powerful arm.   He was Rookie of the Year in 1970 and was the American League MVP in 1976.  He was a seven-time All-Star, a seven-time MVP candidate, and a three-time Gold Glove Award winner.  Munson’s .292 lifetime batting average is higher than eight of the 13 Hall of Fame catchers.  He was known as a warrior for his ability to play through injuries.

He helped the 1977 and 1978 Yankees become World Champions.  In 1976 he was made Yankee Captain, the first Yankee Captain since Lou Gehrig retired.  The same year he scored three runs in the ALCS and batted .529 in the World Series that was lost to the Reds.  At the young age of 32 in a tragic plane crash of his own plane during August of 1979, Munson died.   Munson certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame, but many believe the reason he isn’t was due to his shortened career.

2. Yogi Berra

Lawrence Peter Yogi Berra was one of the most popular Yankees of all time. He was a long-time catcher, coach, and manager for the Yankees. He caught for the Yankees between 1946 and 1965. Yogi was a small man yet had tremendous endurance. He once caught a 22 inning game. He caught in more than 100 games a year for the next fourteen years. During that time, the Yankees went to the World series fourteen times, winning the Fall Classic ten of those times.

During that period, Berra established records for the most at-bats, 259 hits, 71 doubles, ten singles, and 457 put outs in World Series play. He won more World Series rings than any player in baseball. Yogi, in addition to being an excellent backstop he was also a character that was adored by Yankee fans. Yogi, until his death, was nationally known to fans everywhere. His “Yojiisms” have become spoken in baseball circles and daily life.

Sayings like: “It ain’t over till it’s over,” “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical”, “You can observe a lot by just watching,” and so many more. Yogi is featured in one of the most iconic baseball photos of all time. Upon Don Larsen’s perfect World Series game in 1956, Yogi would jump into the arms of Larsen as he left the field. Berra was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Sixty-nine years to the day after Yogi’s MLB debut, he passed away in his sleep at the age of 90. All of New York mourned.

1. Bill Dickey

Bill Dickey was a New York Yankee Yankee catcher from 1928 to 1946. He was an excellent game caller and defender as the backstop. He was also a great clutch hitter for the Yankees. In fact, he was so good that after he retired manager Casey Stengel asked him to coach the great hitting Yogi Berra, as Berra didn’t have a handle on the catcher’s position. He did and propelled Berra to be a Hall of Fame catcher, which Berra would acknowledge during his Hall acceptance speech. Dickey had his best hitting year in 1936 when he hit .362 with 107 RBI’s. Between 1944 and 1945, Dickey would serve during World War II. Upon his return to the Yankees, he would play in only 54 games but still be an All-Star. At the end of the season, at the age of 39 and the beating a catcher takes, he retired from baseball.

During his career, he was an All-Star eleven times and would be a candidate for the MVP nine times. He ended his career with a .313 batting average and nearly 2000 hits. He played in eight World Series, winning seven of them. Besides all of that, maybe his most fantastic stat was that he struck out only an average of 17 times during each season. Compare that to Aaron Judge’s average of 137 Strikeouts per season. Bill Dickey was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1954. His Yankee number 8 was retired by the Yankees, and a plaque hung in Monument Park in his honor in 1988.

You could argue that Yogi Berra is the best-ever New York Yankee catcher and I would have no ammunition to argue with you.  Either one of these World Class catchers deserves the honor. But I will take Yogi’s own admission upon having his number retired.  He would say of the honor that Bill Dickey was the most excellent catcher of all time.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.  Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

Yankee History: A love affair, the special bond between Phil and Yogi

New York Yankees, Yogi Berra

Over the years, the New York Yankees have had hundreds of players who developed special bonds.  But none more significant than the love between Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra.  No, not that kind of love, but love created by similarities, playing together, and a life shared.

Phil Rizzuto was a small man, much like Yogi Berra that may have been what connected them, to begin with.  Both short for baseball.  Phil was 5′ 6″ and Yogi 5′ 7″, neither were expected to be great ballplayers but both ended up in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Phil burst onto the baseball scene when he replaced Frank Crosetti in 1941 as the new New York Yankee shortstop. Rizzuto had a 13-year career with the Yankees and a .273 career batting average while being a five-time All-Star, an eight-time MVP candidate winning the award in 1950.

Yogi Berra being eight years younger than Phil, made his major league debut as the Yankee backstop in 1946 and played through 1963.  Yogi was an amazing player for a little guy.  His career batting average was .285. Unlike Phil Yogi was a home run hitter, hitting 358 in his eighteen years as a Yankee.  Yogi had his share of awards as well, 18 All-Stars, 15 MVP’s winning it three times.  During the years between 1946 and 1956, the two played together and formed a very close bond.  Both got married and both had children, Phil four and Yogi three.  During their lives, the families often spend time together off the field as well.

Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra are two of the most rewarded players in all of baseball.  Between the two of them, they had 23 All-Star selections, 23 MVP nominations and the two won the MVP 4 times.  Together they collected 17 World Championship rings.

In 1956 that year, Gil McDougald, who had played third base and second base, moved to shortstop, hit .311, and stayed there, and even Phil admitted he was out of a job.  Now Phil and Yogi were no longer playing together.  Yogi would go on to manage the Yankees after he left his playing days.  Yogi like Phil was unceremoniously removed from his job when owner George Steinbrenner fired him from his managerial job, causing a rift between the two that wasn’t corrected until George apologized to Yogi in 1999.  During all this time the two friends remained as close as ever.  The Yankees in 1999 celebrated his career with Yogi Berra Day at Yanke Stadium.

The similarity between the two was more than their statures.  Their personalities were nearly the same.  They both were full of fun and characters in their own ways.  Yogi had an uneducated way of talking that endeared himself to fans.  His Yogisms were world-known.  Phrases like “it’s not over until its over,”  “when you get to a fork in the road, take it,” and many many more.  Meanwhile, Phil had become a folksy broadcaster for Yankee games.  A storytelling and jokes player Rizutto broadcasted Yankee games for 40 years after he retired from baseball. Who could forget those “Holy Cow” game calls?

In the years that followed the only winner of a perfect game in a World Series, Don Larsen, Phil Rizzuto, and Yogi Berra became the beloved elder statesman of New York Yankee baseball.  They always headlined the Old Timer’s Day celebration at the Stadium.  One thing that never changed was the bond between Phil and Yogi.  On August 13, 2007, Phil Rizzuto passed away.  A few days later, in the Yankee booth, Yogi expressed his sorrow of Phil’s passing with tears running down his cheeks.

After Phil died, Yogi remained close to Phil’s wife Cora.  She too died in 2010.  Yogi’s wife Carmen died on March 6, 2014.  Yogi had lost the three most influential people in his life other than his children.  It may have been too much for Yogi to bear as he passed away shortly after that on September 22, 2015, at the age of 90.  The entire Yankee faithful shed tears upon each passing, for they felt they had lost a family member.  Even though you may have never met Phil or Yogi, you felt like you knew them as what you saw is what you got.  There was nothing phoney about either of them.

Older fans are well aware of the love Phil and Yogi had for each other.  Some younger members may not.  To further demonstrate their devotion to each other When Phil was in ailing health, and near the end of his life, he was living at an assisted living facility.  Every morning Yogi would get up and drive to the nearby home and play cards with Phil, holding his hand until the day he died.  This writer does not know of another bond so close in the baseball world.

Both Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto may have passed from this world but not from our hearts and memories.  Today they are both enshrined at Yankee Stadium and in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The following is a video of an interview that the YES Network had with Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay shortly after Yogi Berra died.  WARNING: This may cause you to tear up.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.