Yogi Berra’s wife of 65 years, Carmen, dead at 85 following complications from recent stroke
Carmen Berra, the beloved wife of Yankee legend Yogi Berra, died Thursday night in the Crane’s Mill Assisted Living Facility in West Caldwell, N.J., near the couple’s longtime home in Montclair.
The couple, whose love affair was legendary, had celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on Jan. 26; Carmen Berra’s death was the result of complications of a stroke she suffered earlier this year.
Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Montclair.
Born Carmen Short in Missouri in 1928, Carmen Berra married Yogi on Jan. 26, 1949, when he was a 23-year-old catcher with the Yankees. They went on to raise three sons, Larry, Tim and Dale, and have 11 grandchildren. Dale Berra played for the Pirates and Yankees and Tim played for the then- Baltimore Colts.
“She died peacefully — she went the way she would have wanted to,” larry Berra told The News Friday. “We’re grateful that she and dad were able to spend some good time together (Thursday). I’m not just saying this because she was my mom, but she was one of the great women of all time.”
Yogi and Carmen Berra met in St. Louis in the late 1940s, when he was a minor leaguer just back from World War II and she was a waitress at Biggies, a St. Louis restaurant.
Carmen served Yogi lunch and he asked her name and whether she was married. Their first date was a hockey game in St. Louis. Berra proposed marriage by placing a ring on the table in front of Carmen while they dined at his family’s home.
In recent years, Carmen Berra was instrumental in the operation of the Yogi Berra Museum on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, N.J. On display there are some of the romantic letters Yogi sent to his wife from the various cities he traveled to playing ball. She worked closely with the museum’s donors and helped organize fund-raising events.
Carmen Berra was known not only for her beauty but for her quick wit and charming personality.
In an interview with Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden, Carmen Berra related how her husband once sent her an anniversary card signed, “Yogi Berra.” She said she was glad he signed it that way because it eliminated any confusion about all the other Yogis she knew.
“On behalf of the entire New York Yankees organization, we offer our deepest condolences to the Berra family,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “Having known Yogi and Carmen for so long, it is almost impossible to imagine two people who complemented each other better than they did. We will always remember Carmen’s smile and sense of humor, and her kindness and generosity will be deeply missed by all who knew her.”
In the recently closed Broadway play “Bronx Bombers,” Peter Scolari and Tracy Shayne, who were married in 2013, starred as Yogi and Carmen.
A casting call for an understudy for the part of Carmen summed her up this way: “Character ages to 80s, petite, strong-willed, elegant, beautiful, Yogi’s wife of 30-60 years and the epitome of all that a Yankee wife should be. She exudes confidence without ever seeming pompous, and exemplifies the good citizen without ever appearing plain. She is dynamic, energetic, embodies sex appeal; men are attracted to her and women are drawn to her. A fashion maven, she has an instinct for saying, doing and wearing the right things at all the right times. All respect and admire her. Always in control. Must be 5’5” and below.”