Who's Who Of Sports, Cultural Luminaries Say Goodbye To Legendary Yankees Catcher


MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) Yogi Berra was remembered by family and friends at a private funeral in the New Jersey town where he and his wife raised their family.

A police motorcade escorted Berra’s family to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Montclair Tuesday morning where they were greeted by hundreds of the baseball legend’s close friends, CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported.

Celebrities as well as current and former athletes were also invited to the private ceremony to honor the Yankees great, who died died Sept. 22 at the age of 90.

Among those in attendance were Derek Jeter, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachael.

PHOTOS: Yogi Berra Through The Years

Outside the church, hundreds of fans lined the street to pay their respects to one of America’s best-known icons.

“It’s sad,” one man told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “He’s a great human being, that he was. I’m a big Yankees fan and there’s not too many old-time Yankees left.”

“Quiet, unassuming, he was just a wonderful, extremely wonderful person,” another woman told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “You don’t find many people like this nowadays.”

Berra’s close friend, former Yankees manager and baseball executive Joe Torre, was the first to speak at the service where he shared stories to celebrate Berra’s life.

“Today, we celebrate his amazing impact on others. We celebrate his uncanny ability to make people smile, even those who really don’t care for baseball,” Torre said. “And today, we celebrate the fact that Yogi Berra personified the American dream.

Torre reminisced about a golf outing invitation Berra declined because he had to shoot a commercial, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

“And I said ‘what’s the commercial for?’ And he says ‘Amtrak.’ It was AFLAC. Okay, I think Amtrak probably sent him a check, too, I’m not sure,” Torre said.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivered the eulogy for the Hall of Famer.

“Although I considered myself among the thousands who considered themselves a friend of Yogi, it’s not up to me this morning to speak about his legendary accomplishments,” Dolan said. “It is up to me to speak about such things as faith.”

Berra played in more World Series games than any other major leaguer and was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player.

In his 19-year career, he played alongside the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. He died 69 years to the day he made his major league debut with the Yankees.

A big focus of this funeral was Berra’s humility and his expressions called “Yogi-isms” that have been used by millions across the country, even presidents.

A notable one, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

“We live each day worthy of that identity and that goal, that was Yogi’s philosophy,” Dolan said. “And we are on a journey back to him for all eternity and there’s no fork in the road on that journey, everybody, and that life ain’t ever over.”

He was a fan favorite, especially with children, and the cartoon character Yogi Bear was named after him.

Until recent years, he remained a fixture at Yankee Stadium and in the clubhouse, where the likes of Jeter, Torre and others in pinstripes looked up to the diminutive old-timer.

Those close with Berra say they’ll never forget his way with words.

“Yogi was a unique human being,” Torre said. “You didn’t have to be a baseball fan to know who Yogi was, to know what he represented.”

Added Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson: “Mickey and Yogi and Whitey and Joe and Bruce Garren … it really was a wonderful experience, something I’ll never forget and proud to be a part of that family.”

“I’m glad to call him a friend, and I’m gonna miss him, but he’ll never be forgotten,” former NBA player and current basketball analyst Kelly Tripucka added.

Berra’s family released a statement saying they know he is at peace with his wife, Carmen, who died last year.

Gov. Chris Christie ordered flags on state government buildings lowered to half-staff in Berra’s honor.

And the celebration of Yogi’s life isn’t over. A public memorial tribute will be held at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, New Jersey, on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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