Why Yogi Berra Was The Greatest Catcher Who Ever Lived

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra died at the age of 90 Tuesday. The New York Yankees great wasn’t just one of the best baseball players of his generation, he was arguably the best catcher who ever lived. And in case you need your memory jogged, one of the most famous icons of the 20th century.

Berra was born May 12, 1925, in St. Louis and played his entire 19-year career with the Yankees. Here’s a brief rundown of his most incredible life stats:

  • Baseball Hall of Fame – Class of ’72
  • 3-time AL MVP
  • 13 World Series rings (three as a manager)
  • 358 career HRs
  • World War II vet who fought at Normandy on D-Day
  • Married to the same woman for more than six decades.

The final two are also arguably the most notable. Find me another comparable athlete just as faithful to their country and their spouse. It would be easier to find a needle in a stack of needles. 

Also, Berra was named an All-Star every year from 1948-1962 and appeared in both All-Star Games hosted in ’61 and ’62.

Berra’s teams played in the World Series 14 times. As noted above, he won 10 — more than any other player in history.

He even holds World Series records for most games, at-bats, hits, singles, doubles and games caught. Over his career he batted .285 with 358 homers and drove in 1,430 runs, most for a catcher in history. Basically take Buster Posey’s career so far and multiply it by three to match all those marks.

It was also very rare to watch Berra strike out. He averaged just fewer than 5.5 Ks per 100 at-bats, never striking out more than 38 times in a season.

Tired of the stats? Or the fact he joined the U.S. Navy at 18 and served as a machine gunner on the USS Bayfield during the D-Day invasion at Normandy?

How about the fact there is a Yogi Berra Museum and learning Center located on the campus of Montclair State University, just across from Yogi Berra Stadium, in Little Falls, NJ.

Or how about the fact that Berra not only befriended the first latino and black MLB players during integration, but that he was also an ambassador for Athlete Ally, which promotes LGBT rights in sports. Yeah, Yogi impacted a lot of lives.

Possibly you’ll recognize him more by his famous quips.

Although he denied saying the exact words, Berra is credited for coining “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” and “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

His “Yogi’isms” supposedly inspired the cartoon character Yogi Bear, who debuted on TV in 1958.

Other Yogi’isms include: 

  • About a St. Louis restaurant: “No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
  • About the effect of the sun in left field in the old Yankee Stadium during late-season games: “It gets late early out there.”
  • “You can observe a lot by watching.”
  • “If people don’t want to come to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?”
  • “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
  • “Pie a la mode, with ice cream.”
  • “I wish I had an answer to that, because I’m tired of answering that question.”
  • “You tell the stupidest questions.”
  • “Pair ’em up in threes.”
  • On economics: “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
  • On a slipping batting average: “Slump? I ain’t in no slump. … I just ain’t hitting.”
  • On pregame rest: “I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4.”
  • On being told he looked cool: “You don’t look so hot yourself.”
  • On being asked what time it was: “You mean now?”
  • On being given a day in his honor: “Thank you for making this day necessary.”
  • On death: “Always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise they won’t go to yours.”

Yogi died 69 years to the day of his MLB debut, which was Sept. 22, 1946.

Rest in peace, Yogi. 

Josh Helmuth is the editor of CraveOnline Sports.

Photo Credit: Getty