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Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee Paperback – March 29, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the introduction to his latest effort, Barra (The Last Coach: A Life of Paul Bear Bryant) says that one of his goals was to create the first comprehensive work written about Yogi Berra, the greatest ballplayer never to have had a serious biography. The result is not only comprehensive but also incredibly engaging, as Barra narrates the life of one of the most eccentric ballplayers of the 20th century. Starting with his modest Italian upbringing in St. Louis, Mo., Berra quickly took a liking to what his father called a bum's game. And after a short career in the navy, he parlayed his talents into one of the most decorated athletic careers in history, leading the New York Yankees to 10 World Series championships and winning three MVPs. Each of Berra's baseball highlights is meticulously described, as are his stints as a manager for both the Yankees and crosstown Mets, his relationships with men like Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle and George Steinbrenner, and his ability to create some of the most famous catchphrases of our time, Yogiisms, as they're called. Barra's love of the catcher with the similar name is evident throughout this deserving biography of Yogi. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Barra brings to his sporting version of the Everyman story an encyclopedic knowledge and warm understanding of the game of baseball; meticulous research into business, sociology, and history; and a fluid writing style. The rough gem in this setting is Lorenzo Pietro Berra, the most beloved Yankee and one of the greatest players of all time. Barra makes that argument forcefully as he tells the story of the boy on “Dago Hill” in St Louis who only ever wanted to play ball. We are amazed again at how young Berra was and how cannily he played. The author calls 1947–58 the Yogi Berra era (a period that produced 10 pennants and 8 World Series championships) while giving ample credit to Casey Stengel as manager and Berra’s teammates, from DiMaggio to Mantle. The chapter on Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, which Yogi caught, is worth the price of admission. No anecdote is left unchecked, and the famous koans (“It ain’t over til it’s over”) are traced, investigated, and illuminated like holy writ. From Yogi on D-Day (he was there, on the beaches) to Yogi Bear the cartoon to Yogi’s postplayer roles as manager and coach, Barra covers it all, and what we embrace throughout is a great athlete and a good guy. Baseball biography taken to a higher level. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 451 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780393337143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393337143
  • ASIN: 0393337146
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Archie Mercer VINE VOICE on January 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Yogi Berra was arguably one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game of baseball, and probably one of the most well-known names in all of sports. There have been many books written about him including a couple (Ten Rings: My Championship Seasons, Yogi: It Ain't Over: Yogi: It Ain't Over) co-authored by Yogi himself. In my opinion this biography, "Yogi Berra, Eternal Yankee" by Allan Barra may be the most comprehensive of them all. Starting from Yogi's childhood days growing up in St. Louis and moving through his stint in the Navy during World War II, his couple of years in the minor leagues, and all through his playing, coaching, and managing years in Major League Baseball, the author doesn't skimp when detailing each and every period of Yogi's life. Unfortunately this is not always a good thing as at times the writing style has the same feel of a text book. Lots of information but sometimes delivered in a dry, sterile style. I had the hardest time getting through Part I, childhood to 1947 (about 80 pages). If you can get past the occasional dryness of the text then this becomes an extremely interesting life story of the Yankee Great.

For me, what made this an enjoyable read were some of the details of Yogi's life I was unaware of. For instance, I didn't know that as a 17 year old he turned down a contract offer from Branch Rickey, then of the St. Louis Cardinals, because Rickey wouldn't give him the same signing bonus ($500) as he gave Yogi's childhood friend, Joe Garagiola. Or that Yogi was most definitely in harm's way during the Normandy Landings on D-Day.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Johnson VINE VOICE on December 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ted Williams was once quoted as telling a prospective biographer of Yogi Berra "If you don't write a good book about Mr. Yogi Peter Berra I will have you killed!" Alan Barra has nothing to worry about from Teddy Ballgame. His new book Yogi Berra-The Eternal Yankee, along with his excellent biography of Bear Bryant establishes him as one of the premier sports biographers in the market.

The book is lovingly written in an excellent prose style. He covers Yogi's life from childhood, dwells extensively on his Yankee career, and gives us a great picture of Yogi's post managerial career. He writes with a clear point of view-Yogi Berra is the greatest catcher in the history of the game and if you don't like it I'll prove it. He doesn't avoid Yogi's weaknesses, but he clearly shows his strengths as person, husband, player and businessman. He covers the controversies in detail and tries to draw conclusions about events such as the Copacabana incident and Jackie Robinson's steal of home in 1955. He takes time to tell stories about significant games-especially Don Larsen's perfect World Series game. He also deals with Yogi's firing by Steinbrenner and the 20 year feud that followed.

Barra touches all the basis in this excellent biography. I highly recommend it to any baseball fan and anyone who loves a well written and researched Biography
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Yogi Berra is a former baseball player that has always presented two distinct personalities. There was the baseball superstar that some argue with justification was the best catcher in the history of the game. Yogi was not only a solid offensive player, he was also superb on defense and his knowledge of the opposing hitters and ability to call a game made many mediocre pitchers good to great. For years, Yankee manager Casey Stengel regularly referred to Yogi as his assistant manager.
However, the other side of Yogi was that of the clown, a man who supposedly uttered ridiculous phrases that somehow made sense and that are repeated on a regular basis. Statements like, "It gets late early out there", "Deja vu all over again" and "It ain't over till it's over" are repeated by people talking about sports to politics. This personality was even captured in a cartoon character, Yogi Bear, whose catchphrase was "Smarter than the average bear."
There is also a third side of Yogi Berra, the solid citizen that avoided the wild nightlife of other Yankees such as Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. While Yogi himself may not have understood business, he was smart enough to seek out those who did and as a consequence, his business activity off the field was a success. He has been married to his wife Carmen for decades and there has never been a hint that he was ever anything but a faithful and loving husband and father.
All three sides of this man are presented in roughly equal portions in this biography of one of the greatest players and Yankees of all time. Barra does an excellent job in summarizing the amazing run of the Yankees while Yogi was a player without bombarding the reader with details and statistics.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen VINE VOICE on February 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee" is an excellent biography of perhaps the greatest catcher in baseball history. It is well written and makes the point of Yogi's greatness and, yes, intelligence.

Yogi Berra was born in "The Hill", the Italian neighborhood in St. Louis. Amazingly this tightly knit neighborhood of small yards spawned, at the same time, Yogi and his friend Joe Garagiola. Their fathers had come from the same town in Italy. For a St. Louisan, the early parts of the story are filled with familiar venues and personalities. Yogi worked at Ruggeri's and Biggie's, how many times was I there? The colorful phrases associated with Yogi started with others. When he first became famous a proud Hill matron told him "You the firsta boy what comes from the Hill with a name witha ends a, e, I, o getta name in the paper and no killa somebody." He went to Saint Louis University basketball games, as I did last week, and went to many other places with which we are all familiar.

The interesting thing about Yogi's early career is that he was not signed by either the Cardinals or the Browns. The probable reason is that Joe Garagiola was a better catcher at that time. Yogi signed with the Yankee organization and worked his way up to New York. On the way up he spent time in the Navy and was aboard ship off shore on D-Day.

Yogi's era with the Yankees lasted from 1946-64. Starting in the DiMaggio era, Yogi was the mainstay who bridged the gap into the Mantle era. Although a "Berra Era" is not often thought of, that is what the 1950s were. The 50s were an era of Yankee dominance, largely because of Yogi. Although the Yankees dominated in the end, this book shows how each season was a struggle in which Yogi's contribution was crucial.
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