NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The lovable legend of Yogi Berra, that ain’t ever gonna be over.
The Hall of Fame catcher renowned as much for his dizzying malapropisms as his unmatched 10 World Series championships with the New York Yankees, died Tuesday. He was 90.
Berra, who filled baseball’s record book as well as “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations,” died of natural causes at his home in New Jersey, according to Dave Kaplan, the director of the Yogi Berra Museum.
Berra played in more World Series games than any other major leaguer, and was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player.
For many, though, he was even better known for all those amusing “Yogi-isms.”
“It ain’t over ’til it’s over” is among eight of them included in Bartlett’s.
“When I’m sittin’ down to dinner with the family, stuff just pops out. And they’ll say, ‘Dad, you just said another one.’ And I don’t even know what the heck I said,” Berra insisted.
Short, squat and with a homely mug, Berra was a Yankees great who helped the team reach 14 World Series during his 18 seasons in the Bronx.
“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 museum. “We celebrate his remarkable life, and are thankful he meant so much to so many. He will truly be missed.”
Berra served on a gunboat supporting the D-Day invasion in 1944 and played for the Yankees from 1946-63. His teammates included fellow Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford.
President Barack Obama issued a statement offering condolences to Berra’s family, friends and his fans across the world.
“Yogi Berra was an American original – a Hall of Famer and humble veteran; prolific jokester and jovial prophet,” Obama said. “He epitomized what it meant to be a sportsman and a citizen, with a big heart, competitive spirit, and a selfless desire to open baseball to everyone, no matter their background.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the longtime Montclair resident was a national treasure who provided “sterling examples of citizenship.”
“No! Say it ain’t so. He was a good man, my former manager and friend! RIP Yogi,” former Yankees star Dave Winfield tweeted.
“I am so grateful that I got a chance to know him, to spend time with him, and we’re all going to miss him,” said Yankees Manager Joe Girardi.
As CBS2’s Otis Livingston reported, former Yankees manager Joe Torre said, “We’ve lost Yogi, but we will always have what he left for us.”
Derek Jeter called Berra a “dear friend and mentor.”
And the Boston Red Sox sent their deepest condolences to the Yankees, saying “Our game, and our rivalry, has lost an icon.”
Lawrence Peter Berra, the son of Italian immigrants, got his nickname while growing up in St. Louis. Among his amateur baseball teammates was Jack McGuire, another future big leaguer.
“Some of us went to a movie with a yogi in it and afterwards Jack began calling me Yogi. It stuck,” Berra told the Saturday Evening Post.