It was my grandfather, Ramon, who introduced me to the game of baseball when I was a kid. It was the first sport I knew and to this day, it remains my favorite sport. I never thought I'd be a sportswriter but in the few times I dreamed I'd be one, I wanted to be a baseball beat reporter. Sadly though, we do not have professional baseball in the Philippines.
I've covered Ateneo baseball a few times, but if it were up to me, I'd watch every single game by every single team in the UAAP. Time is just the problem.
Back to the Yankees, they were my grandfather's team and by default, family ties, or osmosis, I became one too. My grandfather's big hero was Mickey Mantle, him of the moonshot home runs. He liked Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra too but the Mick was his man.
About Yogi, my grandfather would say that he was a solid catcher as one would ever be. It wasn't his stature but how he played the game. As the Yanks transitioned from Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle, Yogi was their glue man who kept that team together and kept that train rolling. Watching that film after Don Larsen's perfect game during the 1956 World Series where Yogi leapt into the pitcher's arms who didn't want to do that? I did.
As for me, the Yankees I grew up on included Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Roy White, Mickey Rivers, Lou Piniella, Bucky Dent, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Gator, Sparky, and Catfish among others who were managed by Billy Martin.
While many people remember Yogi more for his malapropisms, somehow, I don't. Maybe it is because I am such a baseball fan that I think more of his 10 World Series championships and being a Hall of Famer than anything else.
I did think of my grandfather though. Now he will get to see Yogi rejoin Joe, Mick, Billy, Scooter, Bobby, Elston, Whitey, and the others guys play ball again.
Rest in Peace, Yogi Berra. Thanks for being a genuine hero (he was in Normandy during D-Day and is a sports hero in more ways than one).