Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame catcher for Yankees, dies at 90

Posted at 3:56 AM, Sep 23, 2015

(CNN) — Yogi Berra, the baseball legend known as much for his on-the-field historic streak as his wry witticisms, has died.

He was 90.

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Yogi Berra passed away Tuesday night at the age of 90,” the Yogi Berra Museum announced early Wednesday morning.

One of the greatest catchers in baseball history, Berra was the backbone of a New York Yankees dynasty that won 10 World Series championships — the most in the sport’s history.

Born Lawrence Peter Berra, he earned the nickname “Yogi” from a childhood friend who said the snake charmer in a movie looked like Berra.

He dropped out of school in the 8th grade to help support his family playing baseball.

His early years on the field weren’t so successful.

“My first two years, I was awful. I was terrible,” Berra told CNN in a 2003 interview.

He said his fingers were so short that they had to be painted just to be more visible to pitchers.

He holds several World Series records, including most games by a catcher (63); hits (71); times on a winning team (10); first in at bats, first in doubles, second in RBI’s, third in home runs and walks, and hit the first pinch hit home run in World Series history in 1947.

As much a comedian as a competitor, Berra’ colorful, disjointed turns of phrase — known as Yogisms — made him one of the most quoted Americans since Mark Twain. and a favorite of politicans of both parties.

“Yogi’s been an inspiration to me,” George W. Bush once said. “Not only because of his baseball skills but because of the enduring mark he left in the English language,”

Among his contributions to the vernacular: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” and “It’s deja vu, all over again.”

“I really don’t know why I say them,” he told CNN. “It just comes out.”

After his legendary run playing for the Yankees, Berra became manager of the team in 1964 — only to be fired after losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

So, he joined the nearby New York Mets as a player and coach.

Berra was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

Three years later, he was fired by the Mets and later re-hired as manager of the Yankees.

He was fired once again, in 1985, after just 22 games.

Berra finished his baseball career in in 1992 as a coach for the Houston Astros.

“It was fun,” he reminisced at the opening of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in New Jersey. “If I had to do it over, I’d do it again.”