Maddon shares his memories of Yogi

Maddon shares his memories of Yogi

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon remembers the day he met Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, and he remembers all the times he had the chance to speak with him since that day.

Yankees legend Berra passed away on Tuesday night at the age of 90. He was a part of 10 World Series championship teams with the Yankees as a player following his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He also won three titles as a coach -- two with the Yankees and one with the Mets.

After he took over as Rays manager, Maddon asked Don Zimmer, the special adviser at the time, "Do you know Yogi?" As Maddon recalls, Zimmer laughed at him.

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So Zimmer set up a dinner with himself, Berra and Maddon, along with Mike Butcher -- the Rays' pitching coach at the time.

"From that moment on, we hit it off," Maddon said.

And, as Maddon says, that was the start of a friendship that continued for years. Every time the Rays traveled to Yankee Stadium, Yogi was there to chat with Maddon on the couch in the visitors' clubhouse.

"We'd just start talking," he said. "And the incredible thing about it -- you go there the next time, and he remembers everything from the previous conversation. We talked about growing up -- the Italian component, growing up in St. Louis. We talked about his hitting, how he did that and how special that was."

Berra attended Maddon's first banquet in his hometown of Hazleton, Pa., for the Hazleton Integration Project. Along with Zimmer, the duo served as "co-stars" and helped Maddon's project get its start.

"Five [hundred] or 600 people showed up, which we could not have done without Yogi or Zim," Maddon said.

Maddon remembers his last "strong" conversation with Berra before his health made visits difficult. He was invited to Berra's charity golf tournament, and when the event was rained out, the two spent the entire day chatting.

"We've all lost him," Maddon said. "Not many people are recognized by one name only. He was special.

"All the stuff that you read about that he says, he says. He'd throw something out at you and you just feel very fortunate. We're going to miss him."

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On Wednesday, Maddon tweeted out his favorite "Yogi-ism," along with a message: "You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours." Our sympathies to the Berra Family. Miss our talks."

"He just had incredible insight and common sense," Maddon said.

Greg Garno is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.