Gietschier: Yogi Berra, rocket man

From SABR member Steve Gietschier at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on September 30, 2015:

The tiny craft were nicknamed “rocket boats,” but the young sailor who liked nothing more than reading comic books thought he heard “rocket ships” and volunteered. Who wouldn’t want to set sail in a rocket ship? Besides, Seaman Second Class Lawrence Peter Berra was bored.

Months before, just after he turned 18, his Selective Service board in St. Louis had notified him that he would soon be drafted. Berra had just begun playing minor league baseball for the Norfolk (Va.) Tars in the Piedmont League, and he was concerned that his first season was about to be truncated. Shrewdly, he asked his draft board to transfer his paperwork to Norfolk, and the gambit worked.

The papers took months to arrive, and Berra was able to finish the 1943 season. During the summer, the Tars played an exhibition game at the Norfolk Air Station. Berra spoke with the manager of the team there. He said if Berra enlisted, he could be assigned to the air station where he could play ball.

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Originally published: October 1, 2015. Last Updated: October 1, 2015.