The baseball community reacted with reverence and sadness to the loss of a giant Wednesday morning, when word emerged that Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra had passed away. Berra, a 10-time World Series champion as a player, celebrated his 90th birthday in May and left an enormous legacy.
Berra was named the American League's Most Valuable Player Award winner three times and was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, his second year of eligibility. His death, coincidentally, came late in the evening on Tuesday -- 69 years to the day after his big league debut on Sept. 22, 1946.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. issued the following statement:
"Yogi Berra's character, talent, courage, extraordinary experiences and inimitable way with words made him a universally beloved figure in Baseball and beyond.
"Born to Italian immigrant parents in St. Louis, Lawrence Peter Berra grew up to serve his country on D-Day as a member of the U.S. Navy. Upon his return from his service, he often played in the substantial shadows of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, and yet he quietly became no less than one of the most accomplished players in baseball history himself. The slugging catcher was an anchor of 10 World Championship Yankee teams, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player and a 15-time All-Star. The Hall of Famer played on more World Championship and pennant-winning clubs than any player in the history of our National Pastime.
"Renowned as a great teammate, Yogi stood for values like inclusion and respect during the vital era when our game began to become complete and open to all. With his trademark humility and good humor, Yogi represented only goodwill to baseball fans. His proud American story will endure at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, New Jersey.
"Yogi Berra was a beacon of Americana, and today Major League Baseball and all of its Clubs stand together in mourning his passing and celebrating his memory. On behalf of the game he served with excellence and dignity, I extend my deepest condolences to Yogi's children and grandchildren, his many friends throughout our game and his countless admirers."
Berra played for the Yankees from 1946-63 and later came back to manage his beloved franchise, and his former team issued a touching note of condolence on Wednesday morning.
"Yogi Berra's legacy transcends baseball," Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. "Though slight in stature, he was a giant in the most significant of ways through his service to his country, compassion for others and genuine enthusiasm for the game he loved. He has always been a role model and hero that America could look up to.
"While his baseball wit and wisdom brought out the best in generations of Yankees, his imprint in society stretches far beyond the walls of Yankee Stadium. He simply had a way of reaching and relating to people that was unmatched. That's what made him such a national treasure.
"On behalf of my family and the entire Yankees organization, we extend our deepest condolences to Yogi's family, friends and loved ones."
President Obama took to Twitter to reflect on Berra: "Yogi Berra was an American original - a Hall of Famer, jovial prophet, & a humble veteran. We'll miss you, Yogi, but your legacy ain't over."
Yogi Berra was an American original - a Hall of Famer, jovial prophet, & a humble veteran. We'll miss you, Yogi, but your legacy ain't over.
Berra, one of the most beloved Yankees of all time, was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1972 and honored with a plaque at Yankee Stadium's Monument Park in '88. Several members of the Yankees family took time to share their thoughts on his life and his passing as Wednesday progressed.
"We lost Yogi, but we will always have what he left for us," said former Yankees manager and fellow Hall of Famer Joe Torre in an official statement. "The memories of a lifetime filled with greatness, humility, integrity and a whole bunch of smiles. He was a lovable friend."
Longtime Yankees captain Derek Jeter paid tribute to Berra on The Players' Tribune.
"To those who didn't know Yogi personally, he was one of the greatest baseball players and Yankees of all time. To those lucky ones who did, he was an even better person. To me he was a dear friend and mentor. He will always be remembered for his success on the field, but I believe his finest quality was how he treated everyone with sincerity and kindness. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
Former Yankees star and current Dodgers manager Don Mattingly also shared his thoughts on what Berra meant to him and to countless other people Berra had encountered throughout a lifetime in the game.
"Yogi was such a great inspiration for so many people and treated everyone with respect and kindness," said Mattingly. "He epitomized what it really meant to be a New York Yankee. His legendary achievements on the field was only outdone by his humility off the field. It's been an honor to call you a friend, we will all miss you Yogi."
"The Major League Baseball-playing fraternity has lost one of its most cherished members," said Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. "A champion on and off the field, Yogi was one of the most beloved individuals to have ever worn the uniform. Although he will be terribly missed by so many, his contributions to the game have established a legacy that will live on forever in the hearts and minds of the entire baseball community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Yogi's family, friends, former teammates and his legion of fans."
The Mets -- for whom Berra played his final four games in 1965, coached during their Amazin' '69 season and managed to a National League pennant in '73 -- issued the following statement:
"Yogi Berra was a baseball legend who played a key part in our history. He was kind, compassionate and always found a way to make people laugh. With us he was a player, coach and managed the 1973 'Ya Gotta Believe' team to the National League pennant. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Several players from the team Berra managed to the pennant in 1973 shared their thoughts, including Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Rusty Staub and Ed Kranepool.
"They threw away the mold in regards to Yogi," said Seaver, a fellow Hall of Fame inductee. "He was one of a kind. He loved the game. As a manager, he never tried to complicate things. He let his players play. He respected what you did on the field. He was an utter delight to be around."
"He was a true gentleman," said Koosman, who won 14 games during the 1973 campaign. "As a manager, he was very, very reassuring. When things were bad, he always stayed positive."
"He did so much good for so many people in this world," said Staub, a six-time All-Star. "Every time I think of Yogi, I have a smile on my face. That's the effect he had on people."
"Yogi was a fun-loving guy who never had an enemy in the world," added Kranepool. "I dressed next to him for 10 years when I was with the Mets. He was on one side and Joe Torre was on the other. He was a special man."
Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who played under Berra with the Yankees, also remembered his friend on Wednesday.
"No! Say it ain't so," he wrote on Twitter. "He was a good man, my former manager and friend! RIP Yogi."
Winfield wasn't the only Hall of Famer to react to the gigantic loss Wednesday. Johnny Bench, thought by many to be Berra's chief competition as the greatest catcher of all-time, also issued a statement.
The messages came in from all over baseball, starting in Berra's hometown of St. Louis and radiating out over the entire community. The Cardinals issued a message on Twitter, stating that their thoughts and prayers are with Berra's family and friends, and many baseball greats reacted to the news.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia shared his thoughts on what Berra meant to the game.
"He was really diverse. It wasn't just baseball that drove him," said Scioscia of Berra's legacy. "He was a great humanitarian. He went to fight for the [military]. A very humble man for accomplishing probably more than anybody who ever played the game, when you think about the World Series appearances, World Series titles, managing a team to the World Series. And when you got a chance to talk to him, it was like you were talking to your next-door neighbor. He was so down to Earth. Just a great man."
"My thoughts & prayers are with the Berra family today," wrote home run king Barry Bonds in a tweet. "A baseball legend, American hero and great man #YogiBerra #RIP"
My thoughts & prayers are with the Berra family today. A baseball legend, American hero and great man #YogiBerra#RIP