Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Maddon catches Yogi: ‘It might have been my best play as a professional’
Posted Mar 17, 2011 by Roger Mooney
Updated Mar 17, 2011 at 10:42 PM
Joe Maddon and Yogi Berra chat before Yogi’s near fall.
BY ROGER MOONEY
TAMPA – Yogi Berra and Joe Maddon were chatting near the batting cage during the Rays batting practice Thursday when Berra began to walk toward home plate.
That’s when Berra’s right foot got caught in a lip on the tarp used to protect the grass during BP and began to fall forward.
“It’s one of those things, you just see it and he’s going down. There’s Yogi Berra falling right in front of me,” Maddon said. “I try to catch him. It might have been my best play as a professional.”
Maddon reached out and grabbed the Hall of Famer with both hands and eased him to the ground.
“He said nice hands, I think,” Maddon said. “From a guy with great hands to tell me that, ‘Good hands. Nice hands,’ It’s quit a compliment.”
Berra was quickly surrounded by Yankee coaches. Don Zimmer moved in to help.
Assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker ran from the dugout.
Berra was helped to his feet and walked off the field on his own power. He was later seen laughing with Yankee manager Joe Girardi and Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman in the Yankees clubhouse.
The 85-year-old Berra was taken to Morton Plant Hospital last Thursday after tripping over his shoes and falling in the visiting clubhouse at Bright House Field in Clearwater. He was examined and released in the afternoon.
Maddon made it a point to seek out the Yankee legend before the game. Rays third baseman Evan Longoria even ran back to the visiting clubhouse to get a couple of new baseballs for Berra to sign.
Maddon always makes it a point to talk to Berra. Thursday’s meeting is one Maddon will remember for a long time.