Yogi Berra, the beloved baseball player who became known as much for mind-bending aphorisms like “It ain’t over till it’s over” as for his Hall of Fame career as a catcher, has died, Major League Baseball announced Wednesday. He was 90.
Berra, a fixture of 10 New York Yankees world championship teams who won three MVP awards and later managed pennant-winners for the Mets and Yankees, died late Tuesday, the league and his charitable organization said.
He played in more World Series games than any other player. But his cultural fame, which was so pronounced that it inspired a cartoon character, Yogi Bear, sprang from his seemingly endless supply of head-scratching catchphrases.
Berra held forth on economics: “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” On time: “It gets late early out there.” On mathematics: “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.” And on the mysteries of life itself: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
Not all of the malapropisms were his, as he himself conceded when he remarked, “I really didn’t say everything I said.”
The New York Yankees and MLB both described him an an "American hero."
Lawrence Peter Berra was born in St. Louis to Italian parents. He quit school after eighth grade and served in the Navy, including as a ship gunner’s during the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
He played for the Yankees between 1946 and 1963, a period when the team ruled baseball. The Yankees won five titles in a row, from 1949 to 1953. In another championship year, 1956, Berra leaped into the arms of Don Larsen after he tossed the only perfect game in World Series history.
Photo Gallery: Yogi Berra's Life In Baseball
Berra managed the Yankees in 1964, then crossed town to play one season for the Mets before retiring as a player. He managed the Mets for four seasons in the 1970s and the Yankees again in 1984 and 1985.
His 1973 Mets lost to the powerful Oakland Athletics in the World Series, inspiring another Yogi-ism: "We were overwhelming underdogs."
“I love baseball, I really do,” he once said. “I always told my Dad, I'm not gonna make it working... I like to play ball too much. Which I did. We played hard. You gotta work at this game. You really do. And its fun doing it if you do it the right way.”
Berra devoted the later innings of his life to community service and charity work.
His Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center are on the campus of Montclair State University in New Jersey, not far from Yankee Stadium.
In March 2014, Berra lost his wife of 65 years, Carmen, often called "the woman beside the man behind the plate.”
They had three sons and 11 grandchildren.