Sunday, June 1, 2008

#8 for the New York Yankees: Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (Born May 12, 1925 in St.Louis, MO.)
G-2120, AB-7555, R-1175, H-2150, 2B-321, 3B-49, HR-358, RBI-1430, BB-704, K's-414, AVG-.285
World Series totals for Berra:
G-75 AB-259, R-41, H-71, 2B-10, HR-12, RBI-39, AVG-.274.

Berra was one of only 4 players to be named MVP three times (1951, 1954 and 1955).
Berra was one of only 6 managers to lead both American League (1964-Yankees) and National League (1973-Mets) teams to the World Series.

The father of Dale Berra (Pittsburgh Pirates-INF) and Tim Berra (Baltimore Colts: KR-WR).

The Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Yogi Bear, was named after Lawrence Peter Berra.

He was taught the position of catcher under the mentorship of Bill Dickey. The Hall of Fame Yankee catcher was inducted into Cooperstown, NY in 1954.

As a fielder, Berra was truly outstanding. Quick, mobile and a great handler of pitchers, Berra led American League catchers eight (8) times in games caught and chances accepted (fielding percentage is calculated as chances accepted divided by total chances), 6 times in double-plays (a major league record), 8 times in putouts, 3 times in assists, and once (1) in fielding percentage.

Berra left the game with the AL records for catcher putouts (8723) and chances accepted (9520). He was also one of only four catchers to ever field 1.000 for the season, playing 88 errorless games in 1958.

Yogi Berra appeared in 14 World Serieses, winning 10 of them, both of which are records. It enabled him to establish the major league records for World Series games (75), At-bats (259), hits (71), doubles (10), singles (49), games caught (63) and catcher putouts (457).

In Game 3 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers, Berra hit the first pinch-hit homer in World Series history off Ralph Branca. (Branca delivered the "Shot Heard Round the World" pitch to Bobby Thomson.)

(Though Berra played in 14 World Serieses, he played a full game in just 9 of them, one fewer than Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, who played full games in all ten of his Series appearances.)

In 1946, Berra wore the uniform number #38, switching to #35 the following season. In 1948, he changed to #8 to honor his mentor, Bill Dickey. In 1972, the same year Yogi Berra was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame, his number was retired to honor both he and Bill Dickey.

William Malcolm Dickey. Born in Bastrop, LA, he broke into the major leagues with the New York Yankees in 1928. In 1928, Goose Goslin (Washington Senators) led in hitting with a .379 average. Babe Ruth hit 54-HRs. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (NY Yankees) tied for the league lead with 142-RBI.

AB-6300, R-930, H-1969, 2B-343, 3B-72, HR-202, RBI-1209, SB-37, BB-678, K's-289, AVG-.313.

Dickey had been regarded as Lou Gehrig's best friend on those legendary Yankee teams.

A few Yogiisms:

- (as a general comment on baseball) "Ninety percent of this game is half mental."
- "It ain't over till it's over."
- "It's like deja vu all over again."

I am amazed at the importance of getting on back in Yogi's day and before. The walks-to-strikeouts ratio was such an important statistic to the players back then. Nowadays, if you see a batter with more walks than strikeouts it's more an aberration than anything else. It's as if someone surmised, 'It's generally understood that a good hitter makes an out 2 of 3 at-bats. So it isn't important how you get out as long as you get the one hit.'

Because all that really matters (to the media or All-Star voters) is that a player is batting .300, not how productive his .300 (or better) average is for his team. Strikeouts are non-productive outs. And it should always be the concern of the person batting to make his at-bat count and not be a free-swinger but a batter who adapts to what a pitcher is doing and makes contact. (Think of the strategy that would be involved if most batters were disciplined enough not to chase bad balls or fish for something they couldn't do anything with if they were able to get the bat on it?)

Take a look at all of the batters who are thought to be "great," (the most overused word in sports) and see what their strikeouts-to-walks ratio is...That being said, only Phat Albert or Prince Albert Pujols is worthy of being called "great." Currently, Pujols has 47-BB and 20-K's. Nobody (Chase Utley, Chipper Jones, Josh Hamilton, Lance Berkman) is close to his numbers and compared to those numbers prior to the 1970s it's a joke how bad the ratio has gotten for most position players.

Kevin Marquez (thanks to Wikipedia, Baseball-Reference)