Results tagged ‘ Carmen Berra ’

Yogi would not miss DJ’s last home opener

Although he was not part of the Opening Day festivities, Yogi Berra was not going to let Derek Jeter’s final home opener go by without coming to Yankee Stadium to wish the captain good luck in his farewell season.

The Hall of Famer and three-time American League Most Valuable Player, who has thrown out many a ceremonial first pitch at the Stadium, is confined to a wheelchair these days, but the 87-year-old legend was in good spirits as he entered the hallway to the Yankees’ clubhouse just as Jeter was heading out to the field for batting practice.

“Hey, kid, you ready for one more big year?” Yogi asked Jeter.

“I hope so,” DJ said. “Thanks for coming. It means a lot to us. I’ve got to go stretch now. You want to come with me?”

Yogi’s pre-game stretching days are well behind him, but as Jeter pointed out his presence is greatly appreciated by Yankees players. Yogi lost his lifetime partner, Carmen, last month to a long illness, so it was good to see him out and about in the venue that continues to embrace him.

Berra was among several popular former Yankees on the scene for the first home game against the Orioles. Jeter and best pal Jorge Posada did the duty of catching the ceremonial first pitches tossed by the other half of the “Core Four,” Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.

Even before the game, it was a home opener to remember.

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.”

Umps burn Yanks

Back from Cooperstown where Yogi Berra’s absence was felt by everyone. Yogi and wife Carmen are among the most popular couples during Induction Weekend, the first they have missed since Yogi was managing the Yankees in 1984. A huge card was displayed in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel and signed by all the Hall of Famers saying how much they miss Yogi.

“I don’t miss him,” Whitey Ford quipped. “I see Yogi all the time.”

I figured that Alex Rodriguez would have gotten to 600 home runs over the weekend against Kansas City pitching. The games were watched by visitors all weekend on a huge flat-screen TV behind the bar in the Hawkeye Grill.

“Let’s go watch No. 600,” was a familiar remark, although I don’t think anyone heard Hank Aaron or Willie Mays say that.

One of the inductees Sunday was Doug Harvey, the well-respected umpire who during his speech took umbrage at people referring to umpires as a necessary evil. “We are necessary but not evil,” the ump known as “God” said.

The Yankees begged to differ Monday night at Cleveland. A blown call against Rodriguez defused a rally in the fourth inning and was ruled a double play. Television replays of A-Rod’s diving liner clearly showed that the ball was trapped by left fielder Trevor Crowe, who came up throwing and threw to second where Mark Teixeira, who had walked to reach base for the 42nd consecutive game, was tagged out. So instead of having runners on first and second with one out, the Yankees were out of the inning.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, TV replays are used only on questionable home run calls. The best Yankees manager Joe Girardi could do was to get the four umpires to talk it over, but the original call was upheld.

The very next inning, another potential Yankees rally was doused by a missed ball. Second base umpire Dale Scott called Curtis Granderson out trying to stretch a single into a double. With Jorge Posada running ahead of him, Granderson had to make sure the slow-footed catcher was going to third base before turning on the jets and heading for second. Still, according to video replays, Granderson was tagged by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera after his slide.

It was an impressive play by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who grabbed the ball with his bare left hand on a carom off the wall and threw a dart to second base, but Granderson appeared safe. He didn’t argue the call, however. He probably figured what’s the use after what happened the previous inning dealing with the necessary evil.

On pilgrimage

I was saddened to see that Yogi Berra won’t be able to make the trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., for the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. I cannot remember an induction ceremony that he did not attend. Yogi and his wife Carmen are two of the best reasons to make the annual pilgrimage. Yogi suffered a broken foot when he stumbled on the steps of his Montclair, N.J., home last week that caused him to miss Old Timers’ Day as well.

I will be traveling to the game’s ancestral home Thursday and blogging back some items over the weekend and keeping an eye on the Yankees from afar. This year’s inductees are Andre “Hawk” Dawson, the former Expos and Cubs outfielder who was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1987; Whitey Herzog, a successful manager in his native Missouri for both the Royals and the Cardinals, and umpire Doug Harvey, who had such command of the game that his nickname was “God.”

Also to be honored will be ESPN Sunday Night Baseball and Giants voice Jon Miller with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting and New York Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing.

Plenty of Yankees Hall of Famers are expected to attend, including Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Dave Winfield, Wade Boggs, Phil Niekro and Rickey Henderson. They all send their best to Yogi.

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