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If you like Yogi Berra's story, you might also like:
Hank Aaron,
Julius Erving,
Peyton Manning,
Willie Mays,
Pete Rozelle,
Bill Russell and
John Wooden

Related Links:
Yogi Berra - Official Website

Yogi Berra Museum

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Yogi Berra
Yogi Berra
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Yogi Berra Interview

Baseball Hall of Fame

June 1, 2005
New York City

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  Yogi Berra

What was it like growing up on the Hill in St. Louis when you were a kid?

Yogi Berra: Well, it was very nice. In fact...

We played ball all the time. I played every sport there was in St. Louis. Not basketball, I was too short. I played a lot of soccer. I played football. I played softball. And, we had a game called "cartball." Did you ever play with bottle caps? We'd played with bottle caps, with broomsticks. Softball, everything. I played every sport. I actually didn't know I liked to play baseball until I was 14.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

Did you do anything besides play sports?

Yogi Berra Interview Photo
Yogi Berra: Oh yeah. I went to school, and I got out of school, and I went to work. I had to get a working permit.

What about school? Were you a good student?

Yogi Berra: No. Not too good. You see, I break up the English a little bit. I don't mean to do it, but it just comes out that way.

What was your favorite thing about school?

Yogi Berra: When you had recess and could play a little softball.

Were you a tough kid?

Yogi Berra: No, I'm not that tough. I could take care of myself if I have to.

When you were growing up, did you have to take care of yourself?

Yogi Berra: Well, I took a little boxing lessons. I had fought in the clubs and the whole thing. I fought a little. I liked the sports. I love to watch sports right now. I love to watch hockey, I like football. Basketball? I'm not much of a fan. I admit that. I watch it, but I'm not much of a fan because I wasn't that good at basketball.

Why did you choose baseball?

Yogi Berra: Baseball? Where could you go and work three hours and make that kind of money? It's just like Whitey Ford said. You know, they asked me, "What would you have done if you hadn't been a baseball player?" "Work in a shoe factory." They asked Whitey Ford, "What would you do?" "I'd probably be a bartender," he says.

Thousands of kids have that dream of playing big-league baseball and never make it. You made it. How were you able to do that?

Yogi Berra: Well, it's not an easy game. You got to stay at it. You really do. You know, a lot of people just think - we had guys - kids today, they're organized today. We weren't organized. Like you and I, you pitch to me, and I'd throw to you after. And, like I said, that cartball taught me a lot, softball. You got to keep your eye - you can't swing hard in softball, that's another thing. I never swung. If I swung hard, I would swing and miss a lot. And, you play with bottle caps, that ain't gonna make you swing hard, neither. And one strike, you were out. And you had to get four hits before you get a run. And we played it day and night. We loved it. Whatever was in season. I played a lot of soccer. I love soccer. I love to watch soccer games on TV. And back there on the Hill, we played against - soccer, we had Spanish living there, the Italians and Germans and Irish. We played against each other. And, I used to enjoy it. That was good. That's a good conditioning game, that soccer. It is.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

What about your family? Tell us about your father and your family.

Yogi Berra: My father came over first. He came from the old country. And he didn't know what baseball was. He was ready to go to work. And then I had three other brothers and a sister. My brother and my mother came over later on. My two oldest brothers, they were born there -- Mike and Tony. John and I and my sister Josie were born in St. Louis. My father believed in working. You know, bring that check home! At that time, it was the Depression and everything, and he didn't know what baseball was. And if I ever came home with dirty pants, I really caught a beating. But that's funny.

I got started around 14. I worked in a shoe factory at 14. I had to get a working permit to work there. My brother Mike worked there too, and I used to go into work with him at 14. And then, I got a chance to play American Legion ball. I kind of skipped work a little bit, and I started to play. At fifteen and sixteen, I played American Legion ball. And, I said, "I'm going to play in the big leagues one of these days."

[ Key to Success ] Vision

Did you ever want to be anything else but a ballplayer?

Yogi Berra: No. I loved baseball. I loved it. I still love it.

What did your father think of that?

Yogi Berra: He didn't think nothing about that. "You go to work and bring that check home!" Like in the old country.

How did your father earn a living?

Yogi Berra: Worked in a brickyard. My brother Tony worked with a baker. Mike worked in a shoe factory. My brother John was a waiter.

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This page last revised on Apr 28, 2008 09:12 EDT
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