October Legends Closing October 27,2018
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For the entire decade of the 1950’s, Yogi Berra was the best catcher in the American League. His deft management of the ever-changing rotation of pitchers that drifted through the Yankees roster throughout the decade enabled the New Yorkers to win a staggering eight pennants and six World Championships from 1950 to 1959. Besides his work behind the plate, Yogi was regarded as one of, if not the, best clutch hitter in the American League, and time and time again he came through when the team needed him most.

Off the field his good nature and quirky personality kept the pennant-hungry Yankees loose and relaxed. The Baseball Writers of America recognized his importance and awarded Yogi an astounding three AL MVP Awards: 1951, 1954 and 1955. In short, without Yogi, there most likely would have been no Yankees dynasty of the 1950’s. By the end of the decade, Berra began tutoring his successor, slowly mentoring Elston Howard to become the next great Yankees backstop. 1959 would be the last year Yogi played over 130 games, and he made every at-bat count, hitting a nice .284, his highest since 1956, plus 19 home runs.

But it was behind the mask where Berra made the most impact in 1959. That season brought a complete revamping of the aging Yankees lineup, and his work bringing along new arms ensured the team would win another five consecutive pennants and two World Championships from 1960 to 1964. So, if one was seeking the perfect piece of memorabilia to define Yogi Berra’s 1959 season, it would be the tools of his trade: this catcher’s mask and mitt set used during that 1959 season. The mitt is a Spalding Larry “Yogi” Berra professional model E-Z Flex model with the Form Pocket.” Yogi’s glove shows good even use. The pocket displays wear at its center and there is scuffing found throughout. The inside and the leather wrist strap show perspiration staining its fingertips and edges show scuffing. The rawhide lacing remains intact as does the Spalding tag on the outside of the thumb. A hand written “8,” Yogi’s number, is found on the outside of the pinky in black marker. The accompanying Spalding model 1514 catcher’s mask shows outstanding use. The heavy cast iron frame shows heavy wear and scuffing, and the face pad is well worn with considerable perspiration toning. The harness is of soft leather bound with rawhide lacing. “YOGI BERRA” and “1514” have been stamped into the leather. This extraordinary set comes from a Berra family friend who received it from the Yankees legend himself. Many years later Berra was presented with the pair and he acknowledged they were indeed his – the actual game used tools of Yogi Berra’s trade. The mitt come with a LOA from PSA/DNA (1G00124) for the game use and the mask comes with a LOA from JT Sports for the game use.

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