Results tagged ‘ Yogi Berra ’

Yankees remember Yogi Berra, take heavy hearts to field

Yogi Berra was riding in the passenger’s seat of Joe Girardi’s rental car one March morning, muttering to himself as the vehicle crawled toward the Astros’ Spring Training facility in Kissimmee, Fla. They were going the wrong way to the game, the Hall of Famer insisted, because there was a shorter route to the ballpark.

Girardi shrugged and promised Berra that he would ask the Astros’ visiting clubhouse manager for the best way to avoid traffic lights on the way back. Before Berra buckled his seat belt nine innings later, he made sure to ask if Girardi had gotten the proper directions toward the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla.

“We proceeded on the drive home, and I knew the directions were the same way we had came,” Girardi said. “We make all these turns and I said, ‘Yogi, it’s the same way we came. I didn’t take the long way.’ And he said, ‘I told you my way was faster.’ It was just another Yogi-ism, and it really made me laugh. That was Yogi being Yogi.”

The Yankees will miss Berra’s presence for countless reasons, but it is his general warmth and deep love for the organization that stands out most. Berra could not attend Spring Training this year for health reasons, but he had long been a mainstay in camp, shipping his golf clubs to Girardi’s office and enlisting Ron Guidry as his personal chauffeur.

Seeing Berra shuffle around the corner from the manager’s office always seemed to be a thrill for the players, who genuinely enjoyed the chance to interact with the legend. Berra did his homework and knew the players on the roster, even telling Girardi each year that he was keeping his eye on a new hot prospect.

“He always called me ‘Shorty,'” said Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner. “It’s Yogi Berra. He can call me whatever he wants. It’s something I’ll always cherish.”

Alex Rodriguez said that one of the highlights of any spring was the opportunity to sit down for a meal with Berra, which he guessed that he had the opportunity to do a half-dozen times.

“Every room he’d walk into, the room would light up, and everyone would be a better person for it,” Rodriguez said.

Girardi said that Berra had a knack for instantly making everyone in a room feel comfortable, telling stories in a humble way. Though Girardi was always in awe of Berra, he said that Berra never made him feel like he should have been.

“When you were in his presence, I always felt like I was talking to my grandfather,” Girardi said. “I just felt comfortable. I always felt he was going to pull something out of his pocket, a piece of licorice, and give it to you. It was a joy to be around him, and that’s who Yogi was.”

Obit Berra Baseball Photo Gallery“He was like walking into a family Italian restaurant and all of a sudden the kitchen and bar opens up to you and, it’s, ‘Have a seat,'” general manager Brian Cashman said. “He was just very warm, welcoming and kind. He was very special.”

Rodriguez described Berra as consistently supportive, while offering moments of wit and humor. He often marveled at Berra’s stature, wondering how he had produced such eye-popping statistics during his playing career.

“To see him, and how small he was — and what a big impact he made,” Rodriguez said. “The other thing is, if Yogi was here today, I don’t think he would want us all to mourn in this day. He’d want us to play with joy, to celebrate his 90 years, and to be happy going about our day celebrating his great life.”

Berra was fiercely proud of the Yankees and their winning tradition, and as the Yankees prepare to wear the No. 8 on their left uniform sleeves, Gardner said that the best way to pay tribute would be to put a victory on the scoreboard.

“Yogi probably played as big of a part in the Yankees organization being what it is today as any other person on the field,” Gardner said. “I think that he’ll be pulling for us. He always has. He’s always kept up with us, so I think he’ll pull for us and root for us. I know that if we can not just play well today, but finish strong and accomplish some of our goals that we want to accomplish, I think it will make him proud.”’s coverage for Yogi Berra (1925-2015):

Berra passes away; HOF legend was 90
Most memorable sayings
Justice: Yogi remembered for kindness, wisdom
Baseball mourns passing of Berra
Commissioner Manfred’s statement
Yogi’s greatness as player underappreciated
Yogi was military hero before baseball star
Yogi’s one true love was his wife
Reactions pour in from around world
Fellow No. 8 Ripken reflects on Berra
8 memorable moments
Statement from Yogi Berra Museum
A few of Yogi’s favorite things
Larsen’s perfect game had Yogi’s touch
City loses a big favorite, but it’ll be OK
Left indelible mark on 1956 Series
Yogi’s Mets years remembered fondly
8 significant achievements
Jeter: Yogi was ‘dear friend, mentor’
Yogi hit World Series’ 1st pinch homer

David Robertson impressed by Dellin Betances’ breakout season

Dellin BetancesOne of the best compliments that you could give to David Robertson’s season is that Mariano Rivera’s name has not come up very often, but just as much, the new closer has enjoyed watching Dellin Betances’ explosion into a premier setup man.

Even Robertson, having a fine year in his own right, was wowed by Betances’ appearance on Saturday at Fenway Park. The stadium scoreboard clocked two of Betances’ eighth-inning fastballs at 101 mph.

“How could you not have fun watching that?” Robertson said. “He threw 101. Wow! I’m lucky if I hit 93 and he’s pumping it in at 101.”

Betances’ 13.22 strikeouts per nine innings in 48 relief appearances (spanning 65 1/3 innings) are the highest mark in the Majors this season, as the right-hander has learned how to harness his two-pitch repertoire into terrific results.

“I definitely think he’s exceeded [expectations],” manager Joe Girardi said. “We knew he had great stuff. We knew this would be a year he had never really experienced before, in a sense, if he got on a roll. And that’s what he’s done.”

Robertson said that Betances’ electric stuff stands out, but there is still learning on the job. Betances was developed as a starting pitcher before being transitioned to the bullpen in the Minors back in 2012.

“You do have to get used to that workload,” Robertson said. “It takes a little bit of time. Obviously you need to figure out your body first; that was my biggest key. When I’m throwing 70 or 65 appearances a year, some of them come on back-to-back-to-back days, you have to be ready to say when we play catch, just play a little bit.

“You just know that your arm feels good and you can go out there and do the job you’re supposed to do.”

Masahiro TanakaThere will be a significant checkpoint in Masahiro Tanaka’s recovery on Monday, when the right-hander is scheduled to report to Yankee Stadium and could play catch for the first time since his right elbow injury.

Monday marks the three-week point from the date that Tanaka received a platelet-rich plasma injection, which the team hoped would promote healing of his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

“We’ll see tomorrow what everyone wants to do with him, but as we said, three weeks is the mark,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He feels good, so we’ll see what we do.”

Tanaka, 25, saw team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad on Friday in New York and no issues were reported.

The injury interrupted a terrific debut season for Tanaka, who was 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in his first 18 big league starts, earning selection as an American League All-Star. He was hurt in a July 8 start against the Indians in Cleveland, and is hoping to avoid season-ending Tommy John surgery.

When the injury was diagnosed last month, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the best-case scenario of the prescribed rehab program would get Tanaka back on a Major League mound in six weeks.

It seems more likely, though, that Tanaka would return in September if he does make it back to the Majors in 2014. There is a long road ahead; essentially, what would be a second Spring Training for Tanaka.

“It’s not starting all over, because he’s been built up (stamina-wise),” Girardi said. “But it’ll be probably 60 feet, and then 60 and 90, and 90 and 120, then flat ground and bullpen and probably a rehab game.”

Michael PinedaMichael Pineda could be two starts away from re-joining the Yankees’ big league rotation.

Pineda worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings in a Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Syracuse on Sunday, scattering three hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

“He threw the ball pretty well,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re pleased with the progress that he’s making and we’ll take another step.”

The right-hander, who has not pitched in the big leagues since April 23 because of a strained teres major muscle behind his pitching shoulder, tossed 58 pitches (37 for strikes).

Pineda’s next rehab start will come on Friday for a team yet to be determined, and he will throw about 75 pitches. Girardi said that Pineda would likely make one rehab start after that, increasing to 90 pitches, and then would be considered big league ready.

“At that point, you would feel from a pitch count he’s ready to join us,” Girardi said.

The Yankees were briefly concerned when Betances slipped on the mound in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 6-4 Yankees win over the Red Sox. He was fine, but it probably won’t be the last time you see the 6-foot-8 hurler overstride; Betances said that it can be difficult for him to keep his mechanics intact, but he’s working on it.

“I think I told you guys, it’s going to happen more than once and I’m sure it will happen again,” Betances said. “I slipped a little bit, and I tried to hold myself with the glove and I wasn’t able to do that. I just tried to make it look as good as possible, but it was not good.”

Carlos Beltran entered play on Sunday hitting .375 (21-for-56) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last 15 games since July 18, a sign that the discomfort in his right elbow has been manageable.

“I think he’s just being the player that we thought he would be,” Girardi said. “It was just a matter of time, but I’m sure (the elbow) has something to do with that, and maybe getting used to the brace as well.”

On this date in 1959, Yogi Berra connected for his first and only All-Star Game home run. The third-inning blast off the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale helped to lead the American League to a 5-3 victory at Los Angeles’ Memorial Coliseum.

“Bronx Bombers” brings the Yankees to Broadway

The cast of "Bronx Bombers." (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The cast of “Bronx Bombers.” (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Over the weekend, while the rest of New York was gearing up for a Super Bowl that didn’t quite live up to the hype, I had the pleasure of catching a matinee performance of the new “Bronx Bombers” play at the Circle in the Square theatre. I’m happy to say that I enjoyed the performance very much; moving the Bronx to Broadway is no easy task, but they’ve succeeded.

The play opens in Yogi Berra’s (Peter Scolari) suite at the Boston Sheraton in June 1977, the day after Billy Martin (Keith Nobbs) pulled Reggie Jackson (Francois Battiste) from a nationally televised game against the Red Sox. All of Boston seems to be talking about what happened in the Yankees’ dugout yesterday afternoon, and Yogi is nervously pacing, rattling off the greatest hits from the catalogue of Yogi-isms. He’s hoping he can broker peace between Reggie and Billy before George Steinbrenner gets involved; good luck with that.

Reggie and Billy are at it again. (Photo: James Leynse)

Reggie and Billy are at it again. (Photo: James Leynse)

Thurman Munson (Bill Dawes) is the first player to arrive in the suite, and he’s terrific – the captain is instantly recognizable, cracking wise about his aching knees and sour about his own issues with Reggie. Martin soon enters the room, rage flooding the room in a southern drawl. He’s shading his eyes with dark sunglasses and a cowboy hat, sneaking the occasional airline bottle into his coffee cup. Finally there’s Reggie, dressed head to toe in red polyester swiped from the ’70s. His strut instantly owns the room, fully in the heart of his “magnitude of me” years, months away from hitting the three homers that will cement his legacy in pinstripes.

You’ve become a fly on the wall in the history books. They’ve clearly done a lot of research to incorporate realistic portrayals of the players’ personalities, and if you’re familiar with those back stories, you’ll appreciate many little easter eggs.

The Yankees are falling apart and Yogi is terrified that Steinbrenner will fire Martin, he tells his wife, Carmen (Tracy Shayne). That soon leads Yogi – and us – into a wonderful dream sequence that is a highlight of the play. Forget time and space: imagine if you could have put all of the greatest Yankees legends in the same room. What would they say to each other? How would they interact?

Life is a party for The Babe. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Life is a party for The Babe. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Your imagination runs wild at that possibility, and clearly the writers had a lot of fun with it too.

An all-time lineup joins Yogi and Carmen for dinner — Babe Ruth (C.J. Wilson, playing the fur-coat clad Bambino larger than life), Lou Gehrig (John Wernke, channeling the Iron Horse’s strength and pain), Joe DiMaggio (an aloof, impeccably dressed Chris Henry Coffey), Mickey Mantle (Dawes, spot-on as the muscled-up, hard-living Mick), Elston Howard (Battiste) and even Derek Jeter (Christopher Jackson).

It’s great fun. I won’t spoil the rest for you. If those names mean anything to you, you’ll want to see it for yourself!

“Bronx Bombers” is now in previews at the Circle in the Square Theatre (West 50th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue). For ticket information, visit or call 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250. 


Berra, Teixeira to be honored at Thurman Munson Awards Dinner

Yogi Berra and Mark Teixeira will be among the honorees tonight at the 32nd annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner, to be held at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan.

Berra will receive the Legend Award in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World Series-winning Yankees. Teixeira will be joined by Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey plus NBA greats Chris Mullin and Dikembe Mutombo in being honored with “Thurmans,” presented for success on the fields of play and philanthropic works off the field. The Mets’ Daniel Murphy will also be lauded with the inaugural Thurman “Rising Star” award.

For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner, call (212) 249-6188. Diana Munson, Thurman’s widow, will attend her 32nd straight benefit, having been involved since its inception, raising nearly $11 million to assist children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Lawrence Peter Berra arrives in camp

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