Johnny Bench Remembers The Late Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra

Count Johnny Bench among the many who will miss Yogi Berra, who died Tuesday night. As a young kid growing up in Oklahoma, Bench would watch Berra play for the New York Yankees, his favorite team.

As an adult, he developed a strong relationship with the man. His description of Berra is just as you'd expect.

"Cuddly, warm, fuzzy -- everything," Bench told ThePostGame on Wednesday. "I looked forward to being with him. ... We respected each other so much, but Yog was just a great guy."

Bench loved Berra for his unorthodox way of carrying himself. It wasn't just the witty quotes: Bench enjoyed how Berra excelled even though he was far from your prototypical catcher -- "5-foot-8 if he stretched out," as Bench puts it.

While speaking about his relationship with Stryker Orthopaedics, Bench took time to gush about Berra's passion for the game, which was always on full display -- the way he'd leap into a teammate's arms and wear his emotions on his sleeve.

Bench first met Berra at Spring Training in 1966.

"I was in camp for the Reds and wanted to get Mickey [Mantle's] autograph," Bench said. "I'm just a kid from Oklahoma. I don't want to bother anybody."

Yogi Berra

Over the years, Berra and Bench came to know each other better. Berra followed Bench's career and rooted for him, the two sharing a kinship that comes with playing the catching position.

"I just felt like it was a kinship brought on by catching, because we knew what we did, we knew our jobs, we knew our responsibilities," Bench said. "We wanted to be in that position."

Eventually, Bench's star came to eclipse Berra's -- at least on the baseball field. Though many of their career numbers are strikingly close to one another, Bench surpassed Berra's record for most career home runs by a catcher.

The next day, Bench received a Western Union telegram from Berra.

"I always thought the record would stand until it was broken," Berra wrote. "It couldn't happen to a nicer guy."


In their retirement years, Bench and Berra saw each other often at Hall of Fame events and other gathering of Major League Baseball's greats. They were always eager to talk, to play a round of golf and to enjoy their time with one another.

Bench said it's the collection of those get-togethers that he'll carry with him in the wake of Berra's passing.

"We just shared," Bench said. "I'll always treasure that."

More: Johnny Bench Shares Telegram Sent By Yogi Berra After Breaking HR Record