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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 54.
- Review Date: 2009-01-19
- Reviewer: Staff
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.)
Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee is a biography of another kind: that of a beloved baseball legend who conducted himself in exemplary fashion both on and off the field. Born into a modest Italian-American immigrant home in St. Louis in 1925, Berra showed promise early on but World War II interrupted his minor-league career. Serving in the Navyand seeing duty at the Normandy landings on D-DayBerra eventually joined the New York Yankees in 1946 and began a spectacular Hall of Fame career as a catcher and outfielder. Journalist Allen Barra's book is the first full-bodied accounting of Berra's life, and, along the way, he essentially tells the story of the great Yankee teams of the 1950s and '60s. He also covers Yogi's managerial stints (which met with mixed results) and opines on his subject's famous penchant for originating colorful aphorisms. Many archival photos cover every area of Yogi's life.