Yogi makes trip to Hall after all
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Yogi Berra is here after all.
Yogi was not on the original list of returning Hall of Famers for this year’s Induction Weekend at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was not expected to attend due to some recent health concerns.
But there he was in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel Thursday night with his wife, Carmen, and son, Larry.
“He called me the other day and asked what I was doing this weekend,” Larry told me. “I said I had nothing planned. ‘Good,’ he said. ‘You can drive me to the Hall of Fame.’ He and Mom just love this weekend. They couldn’t stay away.”
Yogi and Carmen are treated like royalty, as well they should be. One by one, Hall of Famers from Bert Blyleven to Billy Williams to Al Kaline to Eddie Murray to Ozzie Smith to Robin Yount to George Brett to Tony Perez came over to talk to the Berras. Yogi was getting around pretty well on his cane.
“Hey, this weekend is about fun,” Yogi said, “and I could use some fun.”
Whitey Ford and his wife, Joan, were also walking around the lobby. Whitey seemed surprised when I told him Yogi was here.
“Oh,” Whitey said, “I was hoping he wouldn’t come until Monday.”
Only a joke, of course. The Yankees’ most popular batterymates remain the closest of friends.
The Sunday induction ceremony is for former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, who was elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and the late Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who was elected by the Golden Era Committee. Also to be honored Saturday will be Tim McCarver with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing. Legendary Cardinals managers Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa will also be part of the Saturday program.
Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson and I greeted Larkin and his family as they pulled up in front of the hotel.
“This is just the beginning,” Jeff told Barry.
“I know,” Larkin said, “I can’t wait.”
Among the people Larkin sent invitations to for Induction Weekend was Derek Jeter, but the Yankees’ captain is with the team for a weekend series in Oakland, Calif.
“I knew he couldn’t come, but I wanted him to know I was thinking of him,” Larkin said. “He is one of the guys you think of when it comes to shortstops. He’ll be here someday, too.”