Yogi on George: "He Was Tough"

By Brian Thompson
|  Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010  |  Updated 6:25 AM EDT
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Former Yankee player and manager, and a legend in his own right, <a title=Yogi Berra reflects on George Steinbrenner." />

Former Yankee player and manager, and a legend in his own right, Yogi Berra reflects on George Steinbrenner.

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Yogi Berra managed for George Steinbrenner, got fired by him, boycotted his stadium, made up with him, called him a friend, and phoned him just a week and a half before the irascible Yankees owner died.

That was on Steinbrenner's birthday, the Fourth of July.

"I asked him how he was feeling... wished him a happy birthday," Yogi told a packed news conference at his museum on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, N.J.

But he had no premonition that Steinbrenner was about to pass away. Berra said that when he found out Tuesday morning, "I just said 'No.'"

They had one of the most famous feuds in baseball history, dating back to 1984 when Berra was team manager. At the beginning of the 1985 season, with the team struggling, Steinbrenner ordered Yogi fired but didn't do it face to face.

"I didn't like the way I got fired," Yogi said. Then he added, "That's when I said I'd never come back to Yankee Stadium."

Fourteen years later, Steinbrenner apologized.

Yogi quoted Steinbrenner as calling the tiff "'The worst mistake I ever made in my life.'" Yogi said, "I told George, 'Everyone makes mistakes.'"

We got a couple of Yogi-isms, including a flashback to the 1984 team he managed for Steinbrenner.

"He called me up in the office and said 'Your team isn't doing too well,' and I said, 'This isn't my team, it's your team!'"

Then Yogi was asked if Steinbrenner's teams of the past 15 years( five Championships) were as good as the teams Yogi played on(10 Championships). "A few of them could be, yeah," Yogi answered.

Asked if he would miss the Boss, Yogi responded "Damn right I will -- a good man."

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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