plural noun: teammates
- a fellow member of a team.
This definition may not be complete or at least detailed enough to mirror my personal experiences, nor this post concerning two well-known teammates.
In my lifetime, I have had many teammates, some I was closer to than others, some I didn’t care for on a personal basis, but still understood our interaction and cooperation equaled a better chance of success for the team. Many of my teammates have become friends and some friends have been teammates, a select few have become family. Sports is often spoken of being a metaphor for many things, including life. Perhaps, this is correct.
Lawrence “Yogi” Berra. (May 12, 1925 - September 22, 2015) was a major league catcher, coach, and manager. He has also been described as a character due to his malapropism, his “Yogi-isms” are famous. (See “Yogi-isms” posted on January 4, 2021) Some pretty good stories have been floated around as well.
Yogi played 19 seasons in the majors and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 with 85.6% of the voted on the second year of his being on the ballot. He was an exceptional defensive catcher. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed standing 5’7” tall at 185lbs. His MLB debut was on September 22, 1946 with the New York Yankees and appeared in his final game as a New York Met on May 9, 1965. He had a career batting average of .285, hit 358 home runs and had 1,430 runs batted in. He was a Yankee from 1946-1963 and a Met player in 1965, also coaching that year. His number 8 was retired (Bill Dickey also wore it, so it was retired for them both), and he has a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.
He was an 18 time American League All-Star, won 10 World Series Championships as a player, three as a coach, won 3 AL MVP Awards, caught Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, caught 173 shut-out games, which is a record and was named to the MLB All-Century Team.
Yogi’s managerial career started with the NY Yankees in 1964 and included the NY Mets from 1972-1975 and back with the Yankees again in 1984 and ‘85. He compiled and overall record of 484 wins / 444 losses for a .522 winning percentage. He also coached for the Mets from 1965-1971, Yankees 1975-1983 and the Houston Astros 1986-1989.
Berra also served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1945. He was at gunner’s mate, Seaman Second Class and earned the Purple Heart During the Normandy Landings.
Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto (September 25, 1917 - August 13, 2007) was a major league shortstop and after his playing days had a 40-year career as a radio and television announcer all for the N.Y. Yankees. He was known as a great guy, hard competitor as a player; as an announcer, for his trademark expression of “Holy Cow”, off the wall digressions and a true love of the game which came through with each broadcast.
Phil played 13 seasons in the majors and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994 by the Veterans Committee. He was an exceptional defensive shortstop. He batted and threw right-handed standing 5’6” tall at 150lbs. His MLB debut was April 14, 1941 and appeared in his final game August 16, 1956. He has a career batting average of .273, hit 38 home runs, had 563 runs batted in and was a fine bunter. Phil had 1,224 career double plays and a fielding percentage of .968. He was a Yankee from 1941-42 and 1946-1956. His number 10 was retired, and he has a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.
He was a 5-time American League All-Star, won 7 World Series Championships and won 1 AL MVP Award.
Phil broadcasted Yankee games from 1957 through 1996. He was colourful, and insightful. Along with his “Holy Cow”, he would frequently come out with an “Unbelievable” or “Did you see that?” during broadcasts. Rizzuto would wish fans a happy birthday or anniversary; he spoke of restaurants he enjoyed and told great stories. From time to time he would lose track of the game, so on his scorecard he would tally “WW” for “Wasn’t Watching”.
Rizzuto served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1945. He was stationed in the South Pacific.
If you notice, both players had some things in common; military experience, shorter than the average player, N.Y. Yankee teammates, members of the HoF and careers in baseball after their playing days were over. I will also mention, they both had long marriages and loving families. I’d imagine during their playing careers, they drank a few beers together, probably even did some family things together.
Why did I bring this up? Because as Phil aged and due to declining health, he lived at an assisted living facility in West Orange, New Jersey which was about 30 minutes from where Yogi lived. Yogi went to see him every day. They would talk and play cards until Phil got too tired to play and start to doze off. Yogi would hold Phil’s hand until he fell asleep and then leave. He did this every day. Because teammates were important, this is what Yogi did with and for Phil.
May they both Rest in Peace.
~ Coach Mike