Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame catcher renowned as much for his unique way of turning a phrase as for his record 10 World Series championships with the New York Yankees, has died. He was 90.
Berra died of natural causes Tuesday at his home in New Jersey, according to Dave Kaplan, the director of the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center.
"While we mourn the loss of our father, grandfather and great-grandfather, we know he is at peace with Mom," Berra's family said in a statement released by the museum. "We celebrate his remarkable life, and are thankful he meant so much to so many. He will truly be missed."
The Yankees announced they would honor Berra by wearing the No. 8 on their left sleeve in Wednesday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Berra's death came exactly 69 years after his major league debut. On Sept. 22, 1946, Berra homered in his second major league plate appearance in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Athletics.
In a statement released Wednesday, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said that "Berra's legacy transcends baseball."
"He simply had a way of reaching and relating to people that was unmatched. That's what made him such a national treasure. On behalf of my family and the entire Yankees organization, we extend our deepest condolences to Yogi's family, friends and loved ones," he said.
Short, squat and with a homely mug, Berra was a legendary Yankee who helped the team reach 14 World Series during his 18 seasons in the Bronx.
Berra played in more World Series games than any other major leaguer and was a three-time American League MVP. A 15-time All-Star, Berra was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
"Renowned as a great teammate, Yogi stood for values like inclusion and respect during the vital era when our game began to become complete and open to all. With his trademark humility and good humor, Yogi represented only goodwill to baseball fans," Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
"Yogi Berra was a beacon of Americana, and today Major League Baseball and all of its clubs stand together in mourning his passing and celebrating his memory. On behalf of the game he served with excellence and dignity, I extend my deepest condolences to Yogi's children and grandchildren, his many friends throughout our game and his countless admirers," the commissioner added.
Berra's name appears almost as often in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations as it does in baseball's record book.
"It ain't over 'til it's over" is among eight "Yogi-isms" included in Bartlett's.
"When I'm sittin' down to dinner with the family, stuff just pops out. And they'll say, 'Dad, you just said another one.' And I don't even know what the heck I said," Berra insisted.
Berra played for the Yankees from 1949 to '65. His teammates included fellow Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford.
In 1956, he caught the only perfect game in World Series history and, after the last out, leaped into pitcher Don Larsen's arms. The famous moment was captured in photographs published in newspapers around the world.
In 1985, his firing as manager by the Yankees 16 games into the season sparked a feud with owner George Steinbrenner. Berra vowed never to return to Yankee Stadium as long as Steinbrenner owned the team.
But in 1999, Berra finally relented, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the Yankees' season-opening game.
The Yankees also mourned the loss on Twitter, writing:
Derek Jeter praised Berra for how he treated others.
"To those who didn't know Yogi personally, he was one of the greatest baseball players and Yankees of all time," Jeter said in a statement on his website, The Players Tribune. "To those lucky ones who did, he was an even better person. To me he was a dear friend and mentor. He will always be remembered for his success on the field, but I believe his finest quality was how he treated everyone with sincerity and kindness. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
Alex Rodriguez took to Twitter to share his thoughts on Berra.
Joe Torre, MLB's chief baseball officer and former Yankees manager, said in a statement that, "We've lost Yogi, but we will always have what he left for us: the memories of a lifetime filled with greatness, humility, integrity and a whole bunch of smiles. He was a lovable friend."
Berra was a fan favorite, especially with children, and the cartoon character Yogi Bear was named after him.
Berra never earned more than $65,000 a season, and growing up, he was anything but a natural.
Chunky and slow, Berra was rejected by his hometown St. Louis Cardinals after a tryout in 1943. But a Yankees scout recognized his potential and signed him.
His first professional season with the Yankees' farm team in Norfolk, Virginia, was interrupted by World War II. He joined the Navy and later served on a gunboat supporting the D-Day invasion.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that "Berra was an American original -- a Hall of Famer and humble veteran; prolific jokester and jovial prophet. He epitomized what it meant to be a sportsman and a citizen, with a big heart, competitive spirit and a selfless desire to open baseball to everyone, no matter their background."
Berra reached the majors late in the 1946 season. The next year, he continued to hit well, but his throwing was so erratic he was shifted to the outfield, then benched.
His breakthrough season came in 1948, when he hit .315 with 14 homers and 98 RBIs while continuing to improve his fielding. In 1949, he compiled a .989 fielding percentage and did not make an error in the All-Star Game or World Series.
"I don't care who the hitter is," New York manager Casey Stengel told the New York Journal-American. "[Berra] knows just how he should be pitched to."
Berra was AL MVP in 1951, 1954 and 1955. He holds World Series records for most hits (71), most games (75), most at-bats (259) and doubles (10). He is second in RBIs (39) and runs scored (41), one behind Mantle in both categories.
All told, Berra went to the World Series 21 times as a player, coach or manager.
"You never think of that when you're a kid," Berra said of his Hall of Fame induction. "But egads, you gotta be somethin' to get in."
He was born Lawrence Peter Berra on May 12, 1925, in St. Louis. He married his wife, Carmen, in 1949. The couple, who met in their native St. Louis, had three sons, including Dale Berra, who played in the major leagues as an infielder. Their children survive him; Carmen died in 2014.
Berra published three books: his autobiography in 1961, "It Ain't Over ..." in 1989 and "The Yogi Book: I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said" in 1998. The last made The New York Times' best-seller list.
In 1996, Berra was awarded an honorary doctorate from the state university in Montclair, New Jersey, where he and his family lived. The university also named its baseball stadium for Berra. The adjoining Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center opened in 1998.
The museum houses Berra memorabilia, including what he said was his most prized possession, the mitt he used to catch Larsen's perfect game.
"Yogi conducted his life with unwavering integrity, humility and a contagious good humor that elevated him from baseball legend to beloved national icon. For all his accolades and honors as a player, coach and mentor, he remained completely true to himself -- a rare example of authentic character excellence and a lasting role model for his peers, his public, and the thousands of children who visit the YBMLC each year to take part in programs inspired by his values," the museum board of directors said in a statement.
His wife once asked Berra where he wanted to be buried, in St. Louis, New York or Montclair.
"I don't know," he said. "Why don't you surprise me?"
ESPN.com's Wallace Matthews, ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.