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Thursday, July 22, 2010


New York-  Yogi Berra slept like a baby last night when news reached him that former Yankees manager Ralph Houk died earlier in the day. Houk, who was 90, died quietly and peacefully in Florida after a brief illness according to family members.

"What a relief," said Berra, "I really thought either me or Whitey [Ford] was gonna be number three, but it turned out to be Houk. I don't mean to belittle his passing, not at all, Houk was a good guy and  a good baseball man, I'm gonna miss him."

The theory that death comes in threes seems to be valid after the passing of 99 year old Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard, 80 year old Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and now 90 year old former Yankees manager Ralph Houk. All in a little over a week of each other.

"I was feeling the pressure, I really was. I've been a mess for the past week or so. Couldn't sleep. Couldn't eat. I fell on my face a few days ago and busted up my nose pretty good and had to be rushed to the hospital. I thought that was it. Whitey even sent me a card, thinking that I was next. I missed the Old Timer's Game at the stadium, and I'm sure most of you thought I was next too. Not so fast," said Berra.

Ralph Houk, who had 2 stints as manager of the Yankees from 1961-1974, led the team to back-to-back World Series championships in 1961 and 1962. He was known to have a combustible personality and his hot temper clashed immediately with  Steinbrenner, who bought the team in 1973. Houk resigned in 1974, and even though he won 2 championships, his association with the Yankees and his legacy have been diminished over the years because he helmed the team during the winless and lackluster years of 1964-1973.

"I almost forgot about Houk when I was trying to think of who might be next. How could I forget old Houk? Well, hopefully, the grim reaper's quota is full for awhile. I plan on being around for a bit, especially to see [Derek] Jeter get hitched, and to win my bet with [Alex] Rodriguez.
 As a catcher, I took my fair share of balls off the face. At least I was wearing a mask at the time. He's gonna wish he was in Houk's place when I win. He's seen balls up close traveling at 85 plenty of times, but he's never seen them up close that have been traveling for 85 years."

DD (Laszlo Ferrar reporting)

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