Do you know the baseball player who has been in both the Hall of Fame and on the All-Century Team while also playing in 15 All-star games? Well, I do, he’s Lawrence Peter Berra, known to many as “Yogi” Berra.
Lawrence was born on May 12, 1925, in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up on Elizabeth St., in a neighborhood called “The Hill”. His father worked in a shoe factory, and young Lawdie, as he was called by his friends, decided he didn’t want to do that kind of work so he picked up sports. He found out that he was actually good at it and could play as well as or better than any kid in the neighborhood.
He got his nickname “Yogi” from his friend Bobby Hofman when they went to a movie about India. They saw this old swami who was called Yoga and so his friends started to call him Yoga and it soon turned into Yogi. For the record “Yogi Bear” (the cartoon) got its name from Yogi Berra, not the other way around. Yogi only went to school through the 8th grade.
In 1942 Yogi was playing minor league ball. Yogi’s friend Joe Garagiola was offered $500 dollars to sign with the Cardinals, and Yogi figured that he would get a $500 dollar contract too. The Cardinals decided that one $500 dollar kid was enough, and only offered Yogi $250, which he turned down. The Yankees felt that he was worth the money so they signed him for $500 in 1943. The Giants manager, Mel Ott, saw him play and tried to offer the Yankees $50,000 for Yogi’s contract. The Yankees manager decided if Mel Ott thought he was worth that much money he had better keep him.
Yogi played for Norfolk in 1943, then entered the Navy at age 18. He was assigned to a rocket launcher during the Normandy Invasion at Omaha Beach, and in North Africa and Italy, and was finally stationed back in the States. After his discharge he reported to the Yankees in his Navy uniform and was looked at like some kind of clown. He was soon playing ball in Newark. When he re...