Pete and Alice Eshelman
Associated Press Yankees greats, from left, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Joe DiMaggio and Casey Stengel gather on the steps of Shea Stadium in New York before an Old Timer’s game in 1974. Berra died Tuesday.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 7:55 pm
The Yankee way comes to Roanoke
After a shoulder injury ended my brief minor league baseball career, I went to work in the New York Yankees front office for George Steinbrenner. It was 1977: We won the World Series, the Bronx was burning, I met my future wife, Alice – and I got to know Yogi Berra.
Yogi was a coach working for Yankees manager Billy Martin. As a 23-year-old front-office employee, I saw Yogi every day during home games at Yankee Stadium. Each game day, around 4 p.m., I’d go to Billy’s office and deliver two reports.
The first one went to Yogi – his son Dale Berra’s game report. Yogi was very interested in how his son was doing in the minor leagues. Second, I would hand-deliver the "advance scouting report" to Billy Martin. This report was Steinbrenner’s midseason brainchild and, as he put it, his "secret weapon."
Yankee scouts would scout the opposing team in advance and I would take the data and put it in a report that was supposed to enable Yankee hitters to predict pitches.
As I would hand Billy the report, Yogi would say, "Pete, just put it in the round file."
I quickly learned that was the trash can.
Billy, Yogi and the coaches never read this report.
Coincidentally, when I began delivering the "round file" reports, the Yankees went on a winning spree, winning the pennant and then the World Series.
Steinbrenner summoned us all into his office to brag about his brainstorm of the "advance scouting report" and how this "secret weapon" turned the season around. Thus the power of Yogi’s "round file."
I have many fond Yogi memories, but one of my favorites is when my date and future wife Alice and I attended a press party held at Shea Stadium after winning the World Series.
She was awestruck meeting Yogi. I told Alice that I was going to get a World Series ring like his and Yogi handed Alice his World Series ring to try it on. She fit three fingers in it at once. Yogi had the largest hands of anyone I’ve ever known.
Yogi, Billy and the managers were always very nice to me. They were legends and I was just a young kid working my way up in the front office.
When Yogi and Billy got together with Whitey Ford, Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Mantle and other Yankees, I loved hearing their stories and laughter.
But one thing was for sure, when they stepped on the field, they were as serious as a heart attack, and Yogi and his mates had the records to prove it.
To me, they were baseball at its best, and I am grateful to Yogi and those legendary Yankees for instilling a burning desire in this young man to be a winner in the Yankee tradition.
And, by the way, Yogi did talk like that.