Yogi Berra 1952 #191
by William Szczepanek
When someone in baseball mentions the name, Yogi, it's as recognizable as Babe or Mickey. There's only one. The Yogi Berra card of 1952 comes in as the leader among Berra cards most likely because it is the first card of Berra available in a major set. Berra was also the leader of all catchers in the 1950s. He handled the Yankee pitchers while the Yankees grabbed pennant after pennant. A three time MVP in 1951, 1954 and 1955, he was an All Star and in the top 20 in MVP voting in every year of the 1950s.
While an excellent defensive catcher with great reflexes, Yogi was a terror at the plate with a bat in his hand. His ability to hit any pitch whether it was in the dirt, at his eyes, inside or outside made him impossible to pitch to. He could golf home runs on the low pitches and slice doubles off of pitches above his head. He did this and only averaged 32 strikeout per 162 game season. His career .285 average and 358 home runs attest to his slugging ability. In 1950 he hit .322 with 116 runs scored and only 12 strike outs.
Yogi Berra did not belong in the 1950s. His play was very reminiscent of the 1930s. But, in many ways his character defined the Yankees of the 1950s ─ a winner. Berra was a living caricature. He looked awkward, but wasn't. He was pudgy, but quick. He didn't look like he could hit, but could hit anything. The combination of Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra (pictured right) on the same team kept fans and sportswriters guessing at what they said and what they meant.
Yogi's malapropisms are world famous. Some of them include:
"It ain't over till it's over"
"It's like deja vu all over again."
"I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did."
"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."
"I can see how Sandy Koufax won twenty-five games. What I don't understand is how he lost five."
"If people don't want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?"
"Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded."
"You can observe a lot just by watching."
"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
"I never said most of the things I said."
Lawrence Peter Berra received his nickname from former catcher Bobby Hofman, who said he resembled the spiritual Hindu man "Yogi" when he sat around with his arms folded.
His name grew even more popular after the Yogi Bear cartoon was created in 1958. While Hanna and Barbara denied that the bear's name was based on that of the popular catcher, there wasn't a kid in the country who didn't think of Yogi Berra while watching the cartoon shows, and likewise, when watching Yankee baseball or seeing Yankee baseball cards, Yogi Berra reminded everyone of Yogi the Bear. There were no other Yogi's in the world, except for these two. While Yogi Berra did not like being called Yogi Bear, the casual affiliation didn't hurt either one of them. They're both smarter than the average bear!
Yogi Berra was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972.
You can check out Yogi Berra's statistics at Baseball Reference.