1) Mets manager Yogi Berra
Yogi Berra is a legend…an absolute legend. He is, of course, a Hall of Fame catcher. He was the kind of hitter you wish the players of today would look at and try to emulate. Why? He didn’t LOOK like a ballplayer. He didn’t look like he spent much time in the gym. But the man could flat out hit. And he could hit ANYTHING. He was the best “bad ball” hitter probably to ever play the game.
Yogi hit .285 for his career with 358 home runs. But that doesn’t even tell the story. He accumulated over 2,100 base hits while striking out a mere 414 times in 8,364 plate appearances. He actually walked nearly 300 times more than he struck out and the most he ever struck out in a single season was 38 times. Unfathomable in today’s game.
And…AND…the guy could play the outfield. And he played it well. When Elston Howard came up to be another all star catcher for the Yankees, Yogi would play leftfield.
Yogi had retired as a player with the Yankees following the 1963 season to manage the team for the 1964 season. The Yanks lost the ’64 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals and the team fired Yogi in an ugly way.
The Mets saw a great PR opportunity and jumped on it, bringing Yogi to Flushing as a player-coach for the Mets for the 1965 season. At the age of 40, Yogi played in four games and made nine plate appearances, getting two hits. He spent the next six seasons as a Mets coach until being called upon to manage the team in 1972 following the sudden death of Hodges.
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Yogi was also an extremely knowledgeable player. He knew every player and knew their tendencies. He was on top of everything. A true field general. On the field. However, he simply couldn’t be as successful once he got in the dugout. Unfortunately.