What if I told you thieves stole a man’s tools he had used to make an honest living? How would you react? What if these thieves also stole the awards this man received as recognition for both his great individual achievements and for his role in making the business he worked for among the most successful in the world? How would you react? How would you react if I told you this man is a military veteran, who answered the call of duty when the country and the world need it the most? What emotions would you feel? Anger? Sadness? Shock?
Personally I feel both anger and sadness. I am angry at the thieves who stole things from this man after he worked so hard to achieve. I feel sadness because even if, and when, these items are recovered; some of the damage may never heal. I have plenty to say to the person or people who did this. They are not worth the space they occupy on this earth, nor the oxygen they breathe, and plenty more which is not suitable for printing. The best I can sum up how I feel is this way, HOW DARE YOU!!!
Now take all your emotions and wrap them around the idea that the man I have been talking about is Lawrence Peter Berra. Yogi, the man the myth, the legend. The man who could utter sentences which decades later still baffle people. Such as:
“I really didn’t say everything I said.”
I have plenty to say to these thieve. I am guessing there are some people in the Bronx and around the baseball world who would love to do more than just talk to them.
On October 8th, the Yogi Berra Museum was broken into by thieves. Among the items stolen were several of Yogi’s 13 World Series Rings, his two Most Valuable Player Awards, and the mitt he used to catch Don Larsen’s perfect game during Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. These items are priceless in baseball value, but also in the value they have for Yogi and his family.
The theft makes me wonder what some people are not willing to do, either for money or simply because they want to have something. The worth of a person’s reputation and honor appears to have a dollar value for some people. This is disgusting. The opposite is true for the man who had his property taken from him. Yogi Berra is and never has been a victim. He has put every ounce of energy he has into what he believes. It does not matter if it is fighting for freedom, playing to the best of his abilities on the diamond, or helping kids learn. Yogi is a man’s man. He is tough when need be, he exudes love and humility everywhere he goes. Everyone should aspire to be like Yogi.
The Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center’s mission is to “preserve and promote the values of respect, sportsmanship, social justice and excellence through inclusive, culturally diverse sports-based educational programs and exhibits.” This mission reflects through the young people who have come to the museum for programing. Yogi through the museum and center continues to give back and help make the world a better place.
Yogi Berra Stadium, which is connected to the Museum, is home to both the Montclair State University baseball team and the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League. Yogi’s connection to Little Falls, New Jersey has given both the college players a place to play the game they love, while getting an education. The Jackals’ players have the opportunity to continue chasing their baseball dreams.
When people talk about baseball legends they refer to players like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Clemente, Koufax, and so many more. However, Yogi Berra is in a class of his own. He is referred to not by his surname, but rather by his first name/ nickname. He is the uncle everyone in and around baseball loves. He is family. While he is widely respected, there is an aura of familiarity about him which breaks down the need for formalities. Yogi Berra is a man we all know in some manner, and we all love him just the way he is. It is time for us as a baseball community to assist in returning to Yogi what is rightfully his and to see that those who have violated his generosity are held accountable for the crimes they have committed.