Yogi Berra, quotable baseball legend, dies at 90

September 24, 2015 08:36
Yogi Berra prepares to throw the first pitch at Yankee Stadium in New York in this April 2000 file photo. The Yankees Hall of Famer and prolific World Series star has died at 90. Photo: Reuters

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Yogi Berra dropped that line when his New York Mets were losing to the Chicago Cubs in a 1969 pennant contest.

The Mets went on to clinch the division title in their last regular-season game and the quote became the verbal equivalent of a never-say-die attitude. 

Berra, who died Tuesday aged 90, was celebrated on the field as the New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher who played in more World Series games than anyone.

But it was his homespun philosophy out of a seemingly bottomless arsenal of malapropisms that gave sportswriters some of the greatest quotes of his time.

The late language expert William Safire of the New York Times called them "happy mistakes", words or phrases that are "seemingly off the mark but unintentionally hit the mark right on the button”.

Here's more:

On the sport: "Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical."

On why he no longer went to a certain restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

Giving directions to his home: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

After watching back-to-back home runs: "It's déjà vu all over again."

How to develop a keen sense: "You can observe a lot by watching."

On funerals: "Always go to other people's funerals. Otherwise they won't go to yours."

So prolifically quotable was Berra it became hard to tell which phrases he truly coined.

Which led him to say, “I didn’t really say everything I said.”

Berra's death was announced by Major League Baseball in a Twitter post.

Berra starred on Yankees teams that dominated baseball during his 18 years playing in pinstripes, from 1946 to 1963, according to Bloomberg.

He played in 14 World Series and was on the winning side 10 times, both records.

He also holds World Series career records for at-bats (259) and hits (71).

The American League Most Valuable Player in 1951, 1954 and 1955, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, the same year the Yankees retired his No. 8 uniform.

“He would beat you in some way, whether it was with his defense behind the plate, a great throwing arm or that clutch hitting that every winning ball club must have,” recalled former Yankee pitcher Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956, with Berra behind the plate.

After his playing career ended, Berra managed the Yankees to the 1964 American League pennant and the New York Mets to the National League title nine years later, cementing his status as one of New York’s most beloved sports figures.

Lawrence Peter Berra was born on May 12, 1925, the youngest of five children of Pietro and Paulina Berra, immigrants from northern Italy.

A childhood friend gave him his famous nickname because Berra reminded him of a yogi -- a person who practices yoga -- featured in a travelogue on India they saw at a movie theater.

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