It was a family affair for Yogi Berra's family at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Little Falls, N.J. The United States Postal Service put Yogi’s likeness on a stamp, and it was released to the public on Thursday morning. A small ceremony commemorating the stamp was hosted by broadcaster Bob Costas.
The stamp has a smiling Berra in his Yankees uniform and the words, “Yogi Berra Forever.” No doubt, smiles on the faces of Berra’s family told the story.
“He got his fame from the Yankees, but he took that fame and used it in respectable ways to earn the respect of just about everybody he ever met,” said Larry Berra, Yogi’s oldest son.
The USPS approach Larry Berra and his brothers, Dale and Tim, about putting Yogi’s likeness on the stamp in 2016, but there was a process to get it done, according to Lindsay Berra, Yogi’s granddaughter.
“The process of getting a stamp approved within the U.S. Postal Service is actually very vigorous,” Lindsay said. “I just recently listened to a podcast about it. It could take years, and it goes through many levels of approval. There is a special board that discusses and approves the idea. … In 2020, [USPS] decided to [create the Berra stamp].”
Yogi was known for his quotes, “It ain’t over till it’s over” and “It's déjà vu all over again.” But if he were alive today, what would Yogi say about this honor?
“He would probably say, ‘I don’t understand why they want to make a stamp of me,’” Larry said. “Until the day he died, he could never figure out why people were so enamored with him. I used to try and tell him, ‘Dad, you don’t realize the effect you have on people?’”
There were plenty of reasons to be enamored with Yogi. He was one of the best catchers in baseball history, winning three American League MVPs. Berra, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972, won a record 10 World Series titles as a player and three more as a coach with the Mets and Yankees.
Berra served in the Navy in World War II and was often seen in TV commercials.
“I travel around the country and I have people come up to me and say, 'I’m from Detroit, but we loved your father,'" Larry Berra said. "'How can you love him? He used to beat you all the time?' The guy said, ‘Yes, he did, but he beat us with respect.’ He didn’t boast, brag or showboat about it. He just played the game."
Because of the stamp celebration, the museum was open on Thursday free of charge. The stamps can be purchased at the museum, where you can see all the trophies and World Series rings that Yogi collected over the years.
The museum has a great photo exhibit on the Negro Leagues called "Discover Greatness: An Illustrated History of Negro League Baseball." The photo display is on loan from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
Adjacent to the museum is Yogi Berra Stadium, and kids had a chance to run the bases and play catch for most of the morning.
“It’s really … a terrific feel-good event,” said Eve Schaenen, director of the museum.