Saturday, October 3, 2015

Yogi Berra & Phil Linz: Together Again (in color!)

We've all read many stories about Yogi Berra since he passed. I won't even mention Yogiisms except for the fact that I had to mention it to be able to say I wouldn't mention it. The one I'll focus on here has to do with mfc's latest colorization project.
In 1964 the Yankees promoted their field manager Ralph Houk to general manager. The job of managing the Yanks was given to Yankee legend Yogi Berra. 

           The Yankees, a juggernaut for decades, were an aging team in 1964. New York played listless ball throughout much of the summer and in mid-August they lost four straight games in Chicago to the first-place White Sox.

Yogi Berra and Phil Linz-1965
After the fourth loss the team was on it's way to O'Hare Airport when Phil Linz, a Yankee reserve infielder who was sitting in the back of the bus, began playing his harmonica. Linz was teaching himself to play at the time and would often practice when given the chance.

Yogi, who was in a foul mood after Chicago had whupped their butts, was sitting at the front end of the bus. In no mood for fun or music, Berra yelled, "KNOCK IT OFF!".

Linz couldn't hear clearly over his own playing but he knew Yogi had yelled something. He got the attention of Mickey Mantle who was sitting nearby and asked him what Berra had said. Mantle replied, "'He said 'play it louder.' " This pleased Linz who started to blow out "Mary Had A Little Lamb" with much more fervor.
The actual harmonica
This didn't please Yogi, an old school guy who didn't think anyone should be in a fun mood after such a dismal series. Berra bee-lined to the back of the bus gritting his teeth and fuming. He slapped the harmonica out of Linz's hands and returned to his own seat. After that the bus was as quiet as could be.

The media tried to spin the incident in a way that had Berra losing control of his team. But the Yankees went on a tear after that, winning their division and taking the World Series to seven games. Yogi's Yankees would lose that World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals and shortly thereafter Berra was fired as manager of the team.

The Yankees loss was our gain as Yogi came over to Queens and became a player/coach for the Mets, where he stayed for the next decade. He managed both the Yankees & Mets and took them both to the World Series.

The photo below is pretty awesome, showing Berra and Linz poking fun at the tale, which even back then had become pretty legendary. They are pictured circa 1967, during New York's annual Mayor's Trophy game on July 12th. I figure this was before the game, but it could have been after. Yogi would have been in a good mood because the Mets had beaten the Yankees 4-0. Mets pitchers Don Cardwell, Dennis Bennett, Bob Shaw and Jack Lamabe combined for a five hitter.

Once I saw this photo I knew I'd have to colorize it. People pay tribute in different ways. 
This is my tribute to Lawrence "Yogi" Berra.



Whew, only bruised but still, I hope it does not affect his swing. Postseason, here we come.

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