Locally, no one is mourning the death of George Steinbrenner quite like Montclair’s own baseball legend Yogi Berra. Reporters, including Baristanet’s Kristie Cattafi, packed the Yogi Berra Museum this afternoon in Little Falls.
Berra spoke to reporters and took questions for about a half hour. His wife Carmen and son Dale were at his side. When his wife Carmen gave him the news of Steinbrenner’s death this morning, Berra recalled being in disbelief, saying “No, no, it didn’t happen.”
Berra last spoke to Steinbrenner on the Fourth of July and the two had made plans to see each other this Sunday at Old Timers Day. Steinbrenner asked “How’s my girlfriend,” referring to Berra’s wife Carmen and the two laughed.
Berra said of Steinbrenner, “He had a good relationship with players, he wanted to be a winner and that’s what he did. I wish I could have played for him.”
Berra also mentioned the loss of Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard, adding that he loved the way he announced the names. The only time Berra appeared emotional during the press conference was when recalling how he got fired as Yankees manager in 1985, saying “That’s when I said ‘I’ll never come back to Yankee Stadium again.” He then said how Steinbrenner later came to the museum to apologize, telling Berra he flew all the way from Florida “to be friends with you again.”
Berra added, “Everyone makes mistakes.”
Earlier today, Berra and his wife released this statement:
“This is a very sad day for me and Carmen and all of baseball. My sympathies go out to the Steinbrenner family. George was The Boss, make no mistake. He built the Yankees into champions and that’s something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn’t? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much.”
During the press conference Berra remembered a funny conversation between himself and Steinbrenner in 1984 when Berra was the Yankees manager. “George called me up and said your team isn’t looking too good. I said it’s not my team it’s yours, you’re the one who picked them,” Berra said, laughing.