Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury, right, and teammates stand during
a moment of silence in remembrance of Yogi Berra, who died
Tuesday, prior to a baseball game against the Chicago White
Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York.
NEW YORK — Bill Spahr tapped the
bronze Yogi Berra plaque in Monument Park with his hand, nodded
his head in tribute and recalled the day he once talked to the
Yankees great for 15 minutes at an airport.
"It was easily the greatest
experience I've ever had," Spahr said.
From the makeshift memorial outside
the main gate at Yankee Stadium to the extended moment of silence
before New York hosted the Chicago White Sox, it was a time to
remember the beloved Berra with smiles and tears Thursday night.
"We all looked up to
Yogi," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The champion
he was. A ring for every finger. I think we'd all like to have
White Sox manager Robin Ventura
echoed the sentiment, treasuring the days when he played for the
Yankees and Berra would wander into the clubhouse.
"When he came in, there wasn't
a guy who didn't want to talk to him," Ventura said.
Berra died Tuesday at 90. In 2009,
the Hall of Famer threw out the ceremonial first ball before the
first regular-season game at the new Yankee Stadium.
This pregame ceremony lasted 10
minutes, fitting for someone who played on a record 10 World
Berra's oldest granddaughter Lindsay Berra, left, and Dale
Berra, son of the New York Yankees hall of fame catcher,
listen as Larry Berra speaks about the passing of their
father at the Yogi Berra Museum, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015,
in Little Falls, N.J. Berra died Tuesday at the age of 90.
As both teams lined up outside
their dugouts, Girardi put a wreath of blue and white flowers in
the shape of Berra's No. 8 in the catcher's box. A Navy bugler
played "Taps" in a salute to Berra's service aboard a
Navy gunboat during the D-Day invasion.
The Yankees wore No. 8 on their
left sleeves, and Berra shirts dotted the crowd. About four hours
before game, stadium workers prepared new Berra jerseys for sale
— the concession stands also featured Berra bobbleheads brought
in for the game.
Current and former Yankees were
featured in Yogi remembrances on the video board in the early
innings, some of them citing his classic malapropisms. There was a
trivia question on the board, too, and the answer, no surprise,
Out in Monument Park, flowers
honored Berra. His plaque notes his three AL MVP awards and famous
"It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" saying and praises him as
"a legendary Yankee."
Fans posed for pictures with the
plaque and told stories about Berra. Spahr, 58 and a lifelong
Yankees fan, still plays softball with Berra's son, Larry.
"Yogi was the best,"
reads a note on a baseball placed on a statue of New York
Yankees hall of fame catcher Yogi Berra at the Yogi Berra
Museum, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in Little Falls, N.J.
Berra died Tuesday at the age of 90.
Flowers arranged in the figure of
an 8 were outside the stadium in a fan memorial, along with
candles, drawings and a picture of Berra with Derek Jeter. A young
girl asked her dad what made Berra so special.
"He had some of the most
famous quotes in the world," he told his daughter, "and
he won 10 championships."
Earlier in the day, at a news
conference at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on the
campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, New Jersey,
sons Dale, Tim and Larry and granddaughter Lindsay spoke about
"He was such a normal, regular
guy to the people he met," Dale Berra said. "I think
because he grew up with immigrant parents during the Depression
and had to go to work when he was in eighth grade, I think that
made him humble."
Dale Berra played part of two
seasons with the Yankees when Yogi managed the team.
"We had a meeting the first
day, and I had a question to ask him," Dale Berra said.
"I called him 'Skip.' Well, almost before I could get the
word out of my mouth, Ron Guidry said to me, 'He's not Skip. He's
your Dad.' From that point on, our relationship on the team was
father and son, but I called him Dad."
Larry Berra said he moved back in
with his parents in the family home in Montclair after separating
from his wife.
"He would be like, 'So, are we
going to watch 'Seinfeld' tonight?'" Berra's eldest son
recalled. "I ended up living there for 14 years. I remember
telling my mother that I had to move out. She said, 'Your father
will be devastated. He'd have no one to watch television with.' I
said, 'Mom, I'm 56 years old.' It was really something."
Tim Berra was a standout wide
receiver at the University of Massachusetts and had a brief stint
in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts. He says he'll always remember
the way his father treated others.
"People felt comfortable with
him, laughed with him," Tim Berra said. "Dad had a great
way of relating to everyone. Sure, he was this iconic great
baseball player, but to me, he was Dad. He was a buddy of mine. I
wanted to be like him, a sensitive guy with an air of confidence
Lindsay Berra noted that Tuesday
was Carmen Berra's birthday. Yogi Berra's wife died last year
after a stroke.
"Grandpa wanted to spend her
birthday with her," Lindsay Berra said.
Funeral arrangements for Berra are
private. The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, however, is
planning a public memorial Oct. 1.