The passing of Yogi Berra last week was a very sad day for the Yankees, the fans and baseball as a whole. But it was really sad for me.
Athletes and other people are important parts of our life, whether we realize it or not. We will likely never get to meet 99% of the people of this nature that make an impact on our life, but we do appreciate it.
In August of 1995, Mickey Mantle passed away. I was just 11 years old at the time. I obviously never got to watch The Mick play but I remember watching a ceremony honoring him in my bedroom on my 12" color TV and I began to get emotional. It was because I had read and heard about him and how great of a player he was. It was because he meant so much to Yankees fans.
The passing of Yogi was a very somber day for baseball. Television and print media covered how great of a player he was and how he had a great impact on players and fans alike. His Yogisms are priceless and are used in everyday conversation. He was one guy that no one seemed to have anything negative to say about. That says a lot.
As a catcher myself growing up, I always like Yogi. I have often thought about what it would have been like to watch him play on a daily basis. I bet many people even from that generation wish the same. There was no YES Network, ESPN or MLB Network back then so the best way to see him play was to head out to the Bronx.
I've seen highlights and the final out of Don Larsen's Perfect game a myriad of times but it leaves me kind of unsatisfied. I would have loved to have watched him, and many other superstars of the past, over the course of an entire season or career like we have had the opportunity to do with the "core four" and others over the last three or so decades.
I look at players and ordinary run of the mill people who inspire others and it gives me motivation at times. As a baseball coach I find myself giving it my all in order to assure the players get the most out of the time on the field. I don't want accolades or a pat on the ass, I just want to better a young man who is in the process of maturing and learning about life. I want to make an impact, whether they realize it or not. That makes me satisfied.
I will sure miss seeing Yogi at The Stadium and listening to him talk. What we still have though are the memories shared to us from his friends and family, of which he had many. When an important member of an organization passes, it's like losing a family member, even though we had never met.
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