The Yogi Berra Museum reward money has increased up to $15,000 for information leading to arrests following a break-in Tuesday, Oct. 7. According to museum officials and the Montclair State Police Department in New Jersey, the stolen items included two most valuable player (MVP) plaques and several World Series rings. Originally, the reward money was set at $5,000 but the increase to $15,000 went into effect Thursday, Oct. 9.
Located on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, NJ, the building’s full name is the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center. The front is all glass and showed no signs of forced entry. The back of the building connects to the Yogi Berra Stadium. Museum officials, campus and city authorities are working with state and federal investigators to solve this case.
The museum opened Dec. 4, 1998, with exhibits showcasing Berra’s accomplishments throughout his life. Visitors see items from his well-known baseball status, but also on display are exhibits of his World War II military service. He fought in the Normandy Invasion (D-Day) and received several commendations for his actions.
In addition to the memorabilia from his 19-year Major League career, which included 18 years with the New York Yankees and one year with the New York Mets, the museum also has baseball exhibits of other famous players. A current exhibit is The Luckiest Man: The 75th Anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s Speech, when Gehrig announced he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Special events, such as book signings by people involved in sports as players, managers or announcers, are held throughout the year at the museum.
The Learning Center provides workshops that are designed to help young people, parents and teachers with handling everyday pressures. Some of the workshops relate to problem resolution skills, anti-bullying programs, codes of conduct on and off the field for parents and athletes, and team-building skills. Character-building programs are available beginning at the elementary school level. Summer camps are available in three areas: baseball, softball, and broadcasting.
Lawrence Peter Berra, “Yogi,” was born in St. Louis, MO, in 1925. He grew up across the street from Joe Garagiola, his childhood friend and fellow baseball player. Both of them tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals but only Garagiola was picked. Berra was signed by the Yankees. Besides his career as a catcher, outfielder, and manager, he was known for his way of phrasing things. Two examples of these expressions or “Yogiisms” are, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” and “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
The museum was closed in late 2010 and reopened in June 2011 after a major renovation totaling $3.2 million. The robbery has, once again, caused officials to temporarily close the building. The announcement that the Yogi Berra Museum reward money had increased, came from the Essex County Sheriff’s Office as part of the Crime Stoppers program to catch those responsible for the break-in. For more information about the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, the website is listed below.
By Cynthia Collins