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This story is part of Only A Game's 2019 Thanksgiving Leftovers Show. Find the full episode here.
Dale Berra was a member of the 1985 New York Yankees. And on April 28 of that year, the Yankees played the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.
"After the game, I go into the clubhouse, and there's guys cursing. They said to me, 'Go into your dad's office.' "
Dale Berra’s dad was baseball legend and Yankees manager Yogi Berra.
"So I walked in there, and I said, 'Dad, what's going on?' He said, 'They got rid of me, Dale.' "
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had fired Yogi … during the game.
Dale Berra says it was tough watching his Dad get the axe while the entire baseball world watched.
"And I wanted to console him. And he had no part of it. He said, 'I'm going to play golf tomorrow, so don't worry about me.'
"He was going back to New Jersey, back to Montclair, back to see Mom."
But Yogi first needed a ride to the airport.
Now, Dale says that standard procedure for fired baseball managers is to say goodbye to the players in the clubhouse, and then take a lonely cab ride to the airport for a lonely flight home. But not Yogi. He was the first to board the team bus.
"And he sat in the same manager's seat that he would have sat in had he not been fired," Dale says.
…which was right up front, near the driver.
"All the players are getting on the bus, and they're passing my dad sitting in the manager's seat."
"He was going back to New Jersey, back to Montclair, back to see Mom."Dale Berra
Dale says some players tapped Yogi on the hand or shoulder, or offered words of encouragement as they went to their seats. The Yankees’ next series was in Texas against the Rangers. But before the driver went to the terminal for the Yankees’ charter, he stopped the bus at the entrance for United Airlines departures.
"Dad stands up from his manager's seat, turns around and says, 'You guys are a great team. You guys go out and play. You guys go out and win.'
" 'Go out and play for Billy Martin, your next manager, exactly the way you did for me. Billy's a great manager. You guys are good.' "
And then Yogi did something that triggered a response he had seen from fans so many times during his playing days on the vaunted Yankees of the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Only, he didn’t need to belt a clutch home run or throw a runner out at second. It was a much simpler act.
"He walked off the bus, got his bags from underneath and walked toward United Airlines, turned around and waved at the bus," Dale says.
"The whole bus stood up and gave him a standing ovation. Every player on the bus."
Yogi Berra never again managed a Major League Baseball team.
This segment aired on November 30, 2019.
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