Yogi Berra managed the New York Yankees to their fifth consecutive pennant in 1964, which tied the record for most consecutive pennants by a team, but the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Yankees in the World Series.
Yogi was relieved of his managerial duties, and in a bizarre move, Cardinals’ manager Johnny Keane took over the Yankees’ reins.
In 1984, Yogi again became the Yankees’ manager, and following a third place finish, 17 games behind the World Champion Detroit Tigers, Mr. George Steinbrenner assured Yogi that he would manage his team the entire 1985 season.
Yogi would not be fired.
“Yogi will be the manager this year. A bad start will not affect Yogi’s status.”
The team started poorly. After 16 games, the Yankees had won only six games and were in last place.
Mr. Steinbrenner, the greatest owner in the history of sports (sorry, Jerry Jones and Al Davis), sent general manager Clyde King to inform Yogi that his services were no longer required.
About an hour later, Mr. Steinbrenner telephoned Yogi. Billy Martin was the new (and the old) Yankees’ manager. It was the twelfth time Mr. Steinbrenner had changed managers.
Yogi refused to criticize the Yankees’ owner. “He’s the boss. He can do what he wants. I’m used to this.”
The players refused to comment when they learned the news, but Don Baylor, after reading the prepared statement given to reporters, kicked over a trash can.
One baseball journalist wrote:
“…the principal owner has known that it wouldn’t be easy to drop Yogi – a symbol of whatever class the Yankees have left.”
He then commented on Billy Martin.
“But no matter what Billy Martin does, he’s just another interim Yankee manager, as they all are in George Steinbrenner’s tyrannical regime.”
Yogi Berra didn’t speak much. His actions spoke for him.
In 1988, Yogi and legendary catcher Bill Dickey, who, Yogi once said, “Taught me his experience,” were given plaques in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. But Yogi was still convinced that Mr. Steinbrenner had gone back on his word and he didn’t attend.
Ten years later, Mr. Steinbrenner and Yogi mended fences.
Mr. Steinbrenner visited Yogi and he apologized.
It was believed that two factors finally forced the Yankees’ owner to take action. One was a guilty conscience and the other was the influence of the greatest of all center fielders.
“I got very close to Joe DiMaggio at the end,” Steinbrenner said. “He would point that finger at me and say, ‘You’ve got to get him back.’ You have to believe Joe is smiling today.”
By MICHAEL MARTINEZ Special to The New York Times. (1985, April 29). Berra Dismissed by Steinbrenner; Martin Rehired to Manage Yanks :Berra Dismissed. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. A1. Retrieved September 22, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 118849488).
Dave Anderson. (1985, April 29). Sad Switch For Yanks :Sad Switch For Yanks. New York Times (1923-Current file),C1. Retrieved September 22, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006). (Document ID: 118849642).