Baseball legend Yogi Berra, who won a record 10 World Series championships with the New York Yankees, died of natural causes Tuesday at his home in New Jersey. He was 90.
“While we mourn the loss of our father, grandfather and great-grandfather, we know he is at peace with mom,” Berra’s family said in a statement released by the Yogi Berra Museum, which opened in 1998. “We celebrate his remarkable life and are thankful he meant so much to so many. He will truly be missed.”
The Hall of Fame catcher played for the Yankees from 1949-65, helping the team reach 14 World Series. In 1956, he caught the only perfect game in World Series history. Some of his renowned teammates included Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.
Berra, born Lawrence Peter Berra, was named American League Most Valuable Player in 1951, 1954 and 1955. He holds World Series records for most hits, with 71, and most games, 75. He had a career batting average of .285, hit 358 home runs and drove in 1,430 runs during his 18 seasons with the Yankees.
After his playing career ended in 1963, Berra coached or managed the Yankees, New York Mets and Houston Astros. He wrote three books: his 1961 autobiography, “Yogi: It Ain’t Over” in 1989 and “The Yogi Book: I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said” in 1998. “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” was one of his “Yogi-isms,” which has become a part of the American idiom.
Some of his other famous musings include “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore,” “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical” and “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
His lovable persona and distinctive name (he got his nickname when a friend saw a movie about a yogi, who walked like Berra) became the inspiration for the cartoon character Yogi Bear, which was introduced on “The Huckleberry Hound Show” in 1958 and graduated to his own series in 1961, speaking volumes about Berra’s cultural fame. Berra sued Hanna-Barbera for defamation over the animated character, but later withdrew it, according to the BBC. Hanna-Barbera always maintained that beyond the name, Yogi Bear was patterned after “The Honeymooners” star Ed Norton, played by Art Carney.
“We mourn the passing of Yankees icon and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra,” the MLB’s official Twitter page wrote.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a Yankees legend and American hero, Yogi Berra,” the Yankees tweeted.
Berra is survived by his three sons: Larry, a former minor-league catcher; Tim, a former NFL receiver; and Dale, a former major-league infielder; 11 grandchildren; and great-grandchild. Carmen, his wife of 65 years, died last year.