February 24, 2011

YANKEES WE DON'T HATE:

For Berra and Guidry, It Happens Every Spring (HARVEY ARATON, 2/24/11, NY Times)

With all the yearly changes made by the Yankees, Yogi Berra’s arrival at their spring training base adds a timeless quality to baseball’s most historic franchise.

Berra, the catching legend and pop culture icon, slips back into the uniform with the famous and familiar No. 8. He checks into the same hotel in the vicinity of George M. Steinbrenner Field and requests the same room. He plans his days methodically — wake up at 6 a.m., breakfast at 6:30, depart for the complex by 7 — and steps outside to be greeted by the same driver he has had for the past dozen years.

The driver has a rather famous name, and nickname, as well.

“It’s like I’m the valet,” said Ron Guidry, the former star pitcher known around the Yankees as Gator for his Louisiana roots. “Actually, I am the valet.”

When Berra arrived on Tuesday afternoon from New Jersey for his three- to four-week stay, Guidry, as always, was waiting for him at Tampa International Airport. Since Berra forgave George Steinbrenner in 1999 for firing him as the manager in 1985 through a subordinate and ended a 14-year boycott of the team, Guidry has been his faithful friend and loyal shepherd.

Guidry had a custom-made cap to certify his proud standing. The inscription reads, “Driving Mr. Yogi.”

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 24, 2011 4:41 PM
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