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Tag: yogi

85 Years of Yogi

The Banter wishes Yogi Berra a very happy 85th birthday!

(Photo credit: www.Britannica.com)

Captain Clutch: You Could Look it Up

Bronx Banter Book Excerpt

Everybody Loves Yogi


One of the most anticipated baseball books of the spring is Allen Barra’s biography on Yogi Berra: Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee (W.W. Norton).  Yogi is perhaps the most beloved Yankee of them all but he is also one of the most underrated great players of all time.   In his enthusiastic and provocative manner, Barra makes the case for the unadulterated greatness of Yogi.

Here is an exclusive excerpt.


By Allen Barra

He was the guy who made the Yankees seem almost human.

—Mickey Mantle

Sometime in the summer of 1941, two of the great legends of baseball narrowly missed making a connection that would have radically altered baseball. Some historians place the date in 1942, but the two men with reason to remember it best, Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola, say, and I have taken their word, it was ­1941.

Lawrence Peter Berra, a then somewhat stocky, ungainly looking ­sixteen-­year-­old Italian-American kid from the “Dago Hill” area of St. Louis, had attracted the attention of the best organization in the National League for a tryout in Sportsman’s Park. Jack Maguire, a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals, told his boss, general manager Branch Rickey, that Berra had a powerful left-­handed swing, a great arm, and heaps of potential. Rickey wasn’t sure; he was more interested in another kid from the Hill, Joseph Henry Garagiola, a year younger than Berra. Garagiola was thought by Rickey to be faster, smoother, and more polished. Dee Walsh, another Cardinals scout, talked Rickey into signing Garagiola with a $500 bonus, but Rickey was skeptical about offering anything at all to ­Berra.

Rickey had been getting reports on both boys all summer, not just from his scouts but also from two of his outfielders, Enos Slaughter and Terry Moore, who occasionally showed up to give pointers at the WPA baseball school at Sherman’s Park. Rickey’s initial offer to young Berra was a contract—but no bonus. To a boy that age, a professional baseball contract, even without a bonus, was nothing to be scorned. But Lawrence, displaying the kind of stubborn integrity that would, in just a few years, stymie the most powerful organization in sports, balked. “In the first place,” he would tell sportswriter Ed Fitzgerald nearly two decades later, “I knew it was going to be tough enough to convince Mom and Pop that they ought to let me go away. But if Joey was getting $500 for it and I wasn’t getting anything, they would be sure to think it was a waste of time for me.”


Hedging, Rickey offered $250. Branch Rickey was the most influential executive in baseball—by the end of the decade, it was estimated that nearly 37 percent of all big league players had been developed in one of his farm systems—and Larry’s brash reply took him aback: “No, I want the same as Joey’s getting.”2 Rickey did not mention to Berra how much a month he would be earning under the contract, and Berra never asked. “That didn’t matter to me. I would have taken anything. All I was interested in was that if Garagiola was getting $500, I wanted $500, too.” Yogi would later take pains to emphasize that he wasn’t jealous of his pal, but he was convinced, from years of sandlot and street games, that he was as good a ballplayer as Joe. Garagiola disagreed. “Yogi wasn’t better than me,” recalls Joe. “He was much better. There were a lot of good ballplayers on the Hill at that time, and ‘Lawdy’—as his friends called him, echoing his mother, who couldn’t pronounce ‘Larry’—was the best. You know how kids choose up sides with a bat, one hand on top of the other until you reach the end of the handle? When the last hand got to the top, the first thing said was ‘We want Lawdy.’ ”


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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver