When Yankee great Joe DiMaggio died, my Dad was so sad. When I asked why, he replied, “A big part of my childhood just died.” Today, I finally get it.
Yogi was my childhood hero, along with John Glenn. They were heroes at a time when that word meant integrity, courage and mastery of the game, whatever game they played. Yogi was how my Dad and I bonded over The Yankees…you see, my Dad was a catcher, one of the best and a great baseball/softball coach to me.
Die hard fans never forgave Mr. Steinbrenner when Yogi was banished but we all followed Yogi’s lead, straight into the stadium when he forgave the man and celebrated Yogi Day in 1999. It was as if God smiled down on The Bronx that summer day and blessed us all with David Cone’s perfect game…who knew that when Don Larsen tossed a catch to Yogi before the game started that we would be a part of baseball history again. A perfect game on a perfect baseball day.
In my many years as a news reporter, I interviewed Presidents and rock stars, but never was I more excited then when I placed a call to Yogi in NJ and got him on the phone for a “beeper.” My day, my career was made…and the first call I made after hanging up was to my Dad.
Rest in peace Mr. Berra. Have a catch with my Dad when you see him!