Yogi Berra, legendary baseball player and beloved namesake of Montclair State’s Yogi Berra Museum, passed away at the age of 90 late Tuesday evening.
News crews flocked to Montclair State University to cover the story, and fans laid flowers on Berra’s statue outside the museum. The family of the late Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees, who reside in Montclair, N.J., mourned this loss along with his many fans and the members of the campus community.
Reporters gathered around Kevin Peters, interim CEO of the museum, to hear what he had to say about the news of Berra’s death.
“It is with profound sadness but at the same time a celebratory tone [that we speak] about the life of an icon and about the person who–frankly, I can’t out-Yogi Yogi. He was so special in his wording and you can see just by the expressions of the folks you deal with at the museum, we were all touched by his life and saddened by his passing,” Peters stated.
“The Montclair State community is deeply saddened by the loss of our longtime friend, neighbor and supporter Yogi Berra,” Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole said in a statement on the university’s website. “We are proud that our campus is home to the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center. It will continue to serve as a lasting memorial to the outstanding achievements and inspiring sportsmanship of this legendary athlete and compassionate citizen.”
“My first reaction was just ‘thanks for the memories and laughs.’ He truly was one of the greats, as a baseball player and a man,” said Kelly Whiteside, Sports Journalism Professor at MSU.
She said that the university is blessed to house part of his legacy through the museum, an institution that has greatly succeeded at providing educational opportunity.
The museum is dedicated to promoting the values reflected in Yogi Berra’s life, and it achieves this goal through educating children as well as coaches, parents and athletes about principles of “social justice, respect, sportsmanship and educational excellence through inclusive, culturally diverse sports-based educational programs and exhibits,” according to the museum website.
Whiteside said that “[Yogi Berra] was ahead of his time in race relations in sports,” and the museum passes that legacy along to all of its visitors.
“It was really wonderful that he was able to be on campus last semester for his 90th birthday,” Whiteside continued. “That’s a memory I’ll always take with me.”
Lawrence “Yogi” Berra had been a resident of Montclair for over 50 years and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Montclair State University in 1996. He had maintained a connection with the university over the years as a member of the College of the Arts Advisory Board and a frequenter and supporter, along with his late wife Carmen, of many campus events.
Yogi Berra Stadium, along with the museum, acts as a namesake and tribute to his memory and legacy. The 3,100-seat stadium, which will hold MSU’s homecoming concert this Friday, opened in 1998, and the adjacent museum opened later that same year.
“He was one of the greatest players of all time. Whether you’re a Yankees fan or not, it’s hard not to respect his incredible talent on the field and his entertaining personality off of it,” undeclared Sophomore Thad Acosta said.
“Yogi Berra was truly an inspiration to generations of sports fans,” said Cole in her statement to the university. “While he will be sorely missed, his legacy will live on at Montclair State.”
Numerous different outlets took to Twitter to share the news:
— Yogi Berra Museum (@Yogi_Museum) September 23, 2015
— CNN (@CNN) September 23, 2015
We are deeply saddened by the loss of a Yankees legend and American hero, Yogi Berra. pic.twitter.com/Bf8uXxUPzR
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 23, 2015
Had some great times & laffs with the Legendary Yogi Berra. One of a kind! RIP Sir!
— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) September 23, 2015
As much as we’ll remember Yogi Berra for his glorious baseball life, his service to our country needs to be remembered, too. He was a legend — Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) September 23, 2015
The Montclarion will have continued remembrance of Yogi Berra in our upcoming print edition and on themontclarion.org.