Yogi Berra was more than just a charismatic personality. Yes, he was known for Yogi-isms such as “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” and “It's déjà vu all over again.”
But Berra 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.
In the YouTube Series called Hall of Fame Connections, produced by MLB Network and made possible by a grant from I LOVE NY/New York State’s Division of Tourism, the National Baseball Hall of Fame focuses on Berra’s connections to the world of baseball.
The series, driven by Camping World, looks at the Hall of Fame’s collection from a new and exciting angle, with each episode telling a different story of how two seemingly unrelated artifacts in the Museum’s vast collection connect to each other, crossing through generations of baseball history.
Each two-part episode features both a narrative storytelling element that weaves through the history of some of the Museum’s most iconic artifacts, and the Hall of Fame’s curators conversing about those artifacts and stories with MLB Network personality Carlos Peña, a former MLB All-Star, and sports journalist Lindsay Berra, Yogi’s granddaughter.
The series consists of 13 episodes, all available to stream for free through the Hall of Fame’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/baseballhall. New episodes will be released each Wednesday through September, and will also be featured across MLB Network’s studio programming.
The second episode, titled “Yogi to a King” is available now. It connects Berra to King George V.
Whenever a great play is made in baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame makes sure it gets a piece of history. Here is what to expect for the second episode.
The perfect game
Yankees legend Don Larsen had a game for the ages on Oct. 8, 1956. He became the first and only pitcher in World Series history to pitch a perfect game. It was Game 5 of the 1956 World Series between the Yankees and Dodgers, and who was the catcher behind the plate during that historic moment? It was Berra, who jumped into Larsen’s arms as if the Yankees won the World Series. According to Lindsay Berra, Larsen never shook Yogi off during that game. Larsen hit every spot Berra called. After the game, the Hall of Fame was able to get a piece of history. Yogi gave his catcher’s mitt, a Spalding, to Cooperstown, N.Y., while home-plate umpire Babe Pinelli allowed the Hall of Fame to have his umpire indicator, which keeps balls and strikes. Pinelli was behind the plate when Dale Mitchell struck out to end the game and put Larsen in the history books. It turned out to be Pinelli's last game as a home-plate umpire.
It ain’t over until it’s over
Berra was the Yankees’ first-base coach on July 24, 1983, when he witnessed a bizarre ending at Yankee Stadium. With the Yankees ahead, 4-3, over the Royals in the ninth inning, Yankees closer Goose Gossage was looking to pick up his 12th save of the season. But Royals third baseman George Brett had other ideas. He came to the plate with a runner on base and hit a two-run homer to give Kansas City the lead. Yankees manager Billy Martin protested and claimed there was too much pine tar on Brett’s bat and that the Royals’ slugger should be called out. Home-plate umpire Tim McClelland measured the amount of pine tar on Brett’s bat by putting it across home plate. McClelland then concluded that the bat violated the 18-inch rule and called Brett out to end the game. Brett went berserk, appearing to be a madman after being called out. The game was over -- so everyone thought. The Royals protested the game, and American League president Lee MacPhail overruled the original call and ordered the game to be continued several weeks later at Yankee Stadium with the Royals leading, 5-4. The Royals would win the game, and Brett’s pine tar bat is currently on display in Cooperstown.
Beanie Baby Day; Wells’ perfect game
On May 17, 1998, Yankees fans received two treats at Yankee Stadium. It was Beanie Baby Day and Yankees left-hander David Wells pitched a perfect game against the Twins. The game came 42 years after Larsen pitched his perfect game. The umpire behind the plate for Wells’ perfect game was McClelland, who was behind the plate during the pine tar game 15 years earlier. After the game, the Beanie Baby became one of many artifacts that were placed in Cooperstown.
Yogi, George and another perfecto
After being dismissed as manager of the Yankees early in 1985, Berra declined to visit Yankee Stadium because principal owner George Steinbrenner didn’t tell him personally that he was let go. Berra didn’t return to the stadium until July 18, 1999. By then, Berra and Steinbrenner had reconciled. But two things happened during Berra’s return to the stadium. It was Yogi Berra Day. As part of the pregame ceremony, Larsen threw out the first pitch, while Berra caught the pitch. No, there was no jumping up and down like they did in ’56. A couple of hours later, Yankees right-hander David Cone had a game to remember, pitching a perfect game against the Expos with Berra and Larsen in the stands.
From Berra to Martin to Stengel to King George
Berra and Martin were teammates for several years in the 1950s, winning four World Series titles together. They also had Casey Stengel as their manager, and what a career he had with the Yankees, winning 10 pennants and seven World Series titles. No wonder he is enshrined in Cooperstown. Stengel learned his craft as a manager from John McGraw, another Hall of Famer. Stengel played for McGraw from 1921-23 when both were with the Giants. After the ‘24 season, McCraw and White Sox owner Charles Comiskey asked Stengel to take part in a baseball tour of Europe. As part of the All-Star team, Stengel met King George V of England. Nearly a century later, George’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, sits on the throne of the United Kingdom.