He may be known for his quotable “Yogi-isms,” but it was his play on the baseball diamond that made Yogi Berra a household name. The Hall of Famer, who won 3 AL MVP awards and 13 World Series titles with the Yankees during his 19-year career, died on Tuesday — 69 years to the day of his Major League Baseball debut — at the age of 90.
Berra begin his career in 1946, playing 7 games for the Yankees as a 21-year-old catcher. Over the course of his career, he compiled a .285 batting average, 385 home runs and 1,430 RBIs while striking out only 414 times, a number that’s even more impressive considering it was over 19 seasons and some players in the game today strike out more than 200 times in one season.
Following his playing career, Berra spent 7 seasons as a manager — 2 stints with the Yankees and 1 with the Mets — ending with a 484-444 record and two pennants (with the Yankees in 1946 and Mets in 1973). Berra finished his managerial/coaching career as the Astros’ bench coach from 1985-89.
Off the field, he was a commercial spokesperson for a number of products, including Miller Lite and Yoo-Hoo, and become known for often-nonsensical sayings, some of which are incorrectly attributed to him. Among his most famous are: “It ain’t over till it’s over” and “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.”
Among the tributes to Berra that came out of the baseball world were former Yankee great Derek Jeter, who said “To those who didn’t know Yogi personally, he was one of the greatest baseball players and Yankees of all time. To those lucky ones who did, he was an even better person. To me, he was a dear friend and mentor.” Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Berra “a beacon of Americana” in a statement praising his career and life.