The world has been mourning the lost of Yogi Berra the past few days, and there are no shortage of articles, tweets, and video tributes to one of the greatest men to ever step on the field. Today MLB published a very fine article detailing 8 of the top Yogi Berra accomplishments, both on and off the field, and it’s well worth the read.
2. D-Day veteran: With World War II underway, an 18-year-old Berra interrupted his budding baseball career to join the Navy, volunteering for a secret mission to operate machine guns on a 36-foot rocket boat, the U.S.S. Bayfield. That placed Second Class Seaman Lawrence P. Berra and five crewmates 300 yards from the shores of Normandy on June 6, 1944, for the Allied D-Day invasion, providing cover fire on Omaha Beach to soften the German defenses.
“I sit and I thank the good Lord I was in the Navy,” Berra told MSNBC in 2004. “We ate good, clean clothes, clean bed. You see some of these Army men, what they went through, that’s the ones I felt for.”
Little bit of backstory time. Yogi was my grandfather’s hero. Like my grandfather, he served as a Machine Gunner’s Mate and landed just outside Normandy on D-Day. I never knew that about Yogi before today. I can see why my grandfather felt such a connection with the man. They shared the same passion for the game, they shared the same war, and they were approximately the same age. My Grandfather was also a life long Yankees fan, living just outside of New York in a neighboring borough in New Jersey. Not only that, but Yogi was heralded as being a better man than a ballplayer.
Vin Scully discusses Yogi’s legacy in the video below.