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US baseball player Yogi Berra dies aged 90

Published 23/09/2015

New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra has died aged 90 (AP)
New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra has died aged 90 (AP)

Yogi Berra, the US baseball player known as much for his humorous quotes as his record 10 World Series championships with the New York Yankees, has died aged 90.

Berra died of natural causes at his home in New Jersey, according to Dave Kaplan, the director of the Yogi Berra Museum.

Short, squat and with a homely face, Berra was a legendary Yankee who helped the team reach 14 World Series during his 18 seasons in the Bronx.

Berra played in more World Series games than any other Major League Baseball player, and was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player.

But his name appears almost as often in Bartlett's Famous Quotations as it does in baseball's record book.

Among the more widely-quoted philosophy of Berra are the comments "when you come to a fork in the road take it" and "it ain't over til it's over".

"When I'm sittin' down to dinner with the family, stuff just pops out. And they'll say, 'Dad, you just said another one.' And I don't even know what the heck I said," Berra insisted.

"While we mourn the loss of our father, grandfather and great-grandfather, we know he is at peace with Mom," Berra's family said in a statement released by the museum. "We celebrate his remarkable life, and are thankful he meant so much to so many. He will truly be missed."

Berra served on a gunboat supporting the D-Day invasion in 1944 and played for the Yankees from 1946-63. His teammates included fellow Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford.

"No! Say it ain't so. He was a good man, my former manager and friend! RIP Yogi," former Yankees star Dave Winfield tweeted.

Lawrence Peter Berra, the son of Italian immigrants, got his nickname while growing up in St Louis. Among his amateur baseball teammates was Jack McGuire, another future big leaguer.

"Some of us went to a movie with a yogi in it and afterwards Jack began calling me Yogi. It stuck," Berra told the Saturday Evening Post.

He was a fan favorite, especially with children, and the cartoon character Yogi Bear was named after him.

Until recent years, he remained a fixture at Yankee Stadium and in the clubhouse, where the likes of Derek Jeter, Joe Torre and others in pinstripes looked up to the diminutive old-timer.

In 1956, Berra caught the only perfect game in World Series history and after the last out leaped into pitcher Don Larsen's arms.

After his playing days, Berra coached or managed the Yankees, New York Mets and Houston Astros. He led both the Yankees and Mets to pennants.

In 1985, his firing as manager by the Yankees 16 games into the season sparked a feud with George Steinbrenner. Berra vowed never to return to Yankee Stadium as long as Steinbrenner owned the team.

But in 1999, Berra finally relented, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the Yankees' season-opener.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of a Yankees legend and American hero, Yogi Berra," the Yankees posted on Twitter.

Berra, who played in 15 straight All-Star Games, never earned more than 65,000 US dollars a season. He died on the same date, September 22, as his big league debut 69 years earlier.

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