May 11, 2021

Remembering Mets History: (1965) Yogi Berra Comes Out Of Retirement As A Player

In April of 1965 Yogi Berra signed on with the New York Mets as a Player / Coach.

Berra had retired as a player after the 1963 season & was quickly named manager of the A.L. New York team for 1964. Although they finished first, they lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals & Berra was fired. 

No appreciation given, even after all his years of quality service. But as usual, Yogi got the last laugh, the next year without him they finished sixth & would finish in fifth place or lower for the next six years.

The Mets had also signed veteran & soon to be Hall of Famer ,Warren Spahn, at the end of his career. Yogi commented to the press "we may not be the oldest battery mates in history, but we sure are the ugliest."

Mets manager once again had "his man" on his team. Of all the greats that Casey had managed, Yogi was his favorite, the player he said he never played a big game without - "his man" & that man was Yogi Berra.

Saturday May 1st 1965: Casey Stengel's Mets (6-11) were on the road to face Dick Sisler's Reds (10-5) in front of just 3961 fans at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. With the Mets down 8-2 in the top of the 8th inning, Stengel sent up Yogi Berra as a pinch hitter, in the pitchers spot, as a pinch hitter to face the Reds Sammy Ellis. Berra grounded out to first base.

Tuesday May 4th 1965: Gene Mauch's Philadelphia Phillies (8-10) were in town to face Casey Stengel's Mets (7-13) in front of 17,321 at Shea Stadium. For the first time since 1962 Yogi Berra was behind the plate in the catchers position. Berra was battery mate to Al Jackson that day & batting in the seventh spot.

In the Mets 1st inning, Johnny Lewis singled & scored on an Ed Kranepool single, followed by a Phillies error. After a Joe Christopher wask, Berra came up & got his first hit of the day, a single to center field. Unfortunately for the Mets Christopher was thrown out at third base.

Al Jackson pitched a fine game, keeping the score at 1-0 until the 7th inning. Berra led off that inning with a base hit, his second hit of the day. Ron Swoboda then singled to left field, moving Berra to second. Roy McMillan then singled to center & Berra scampered home to make it 2-0. The run also turned out to be the games winning run as the Mets won it 2-1. Quite a day for Berra who was about to turn forty  the following week.

Wednesday May 5th 1965: In this game Jim Bunning out duels the Mets Warren Spahn in a 1-0 pitching classic. Berra had another 8th inning pinch hit at bat, grounding out to first base.

Sunday May 9th 1965: In this Mothers Day double header, Bobby Bragan's Milwaukee Braves (10-9) came to Shea to play Casey Stengel's Mets (8-15). Today Yogi Berra would get another start behind the plate as catcher batting seventh.

It would be the last game Berra would play in his career as he retired for good after today. Berra went 0-4 on the day, grounding out to second base in his last at bat in the 9th inning. 

Berra would finish the year 2-9 with a .222 average, one run scored in four games. Two runners stole bases on him as well.

The Mets took an 8-2 loss today, as HRs by Joe Torre, Mack Jones & Dennis Menke were the main killers. The two Mets runs were scored on RBI singles by Roy McMillan & Danny Napoleon.

Berra would remain a coach with the Mets for the next seven years, before becoming team Manager in 1972. He would be Met Manager from 1972 to August 1975.

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