Double the fun: Doubleheaders Were Yogi Berra’s Thing; He Caught Both Ends 117 Times

On May 15, 1948, the Philadelphia Athletics took on the New York Yankees in a doubleheader. What’s significant is not that the A’s, who finished a surprising fourth in the American League, swept the Yankees in New York, 3-1 and 8-6. After all, the Yankees were in a down year and finished in third place.

On that Saturday afternoon before 69, 416 fans, Yogi Berra caught both ends of the double dip for the first of what would eventually be 117 times. Berra had an atypical offensive day. He went hitless in 9 trips.

Since doubleheaders are now rarely played and today’s conventional wisdom would keep the first game’s catcher out of the second game, Berra’s record will stand forever.

In a 1956 interview with Sports Illustrated, Berra explained how he gets tapped for so much double duty. Said Berra: “I don’t know how to say ‘no’”

In 1947, Berra’s first season save for 22 at bats the previous year, Yogi played a little left field and occasionally spelled catchers Ralph Houk, Aaron Robinson or Sherman Lollar. But by 1948, the catching job belonged to Berra. Before he retired in 1965, Berra played 1,699 games behind the plate.

For all the millions of words that have been written about which of the great New York centerfielders Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Duke Snider were the best during baseball’s Golden Era, the more compelling debate among  the scribes at the time was who was better, Berra or his Dodger counterpart Roy Campanella?

In his Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James ranks Berra first and Campanella second with Johnny Bench sandwiched between them. While Campanella never played a position other than catcher, Berra during 19 seasons had stints in left and right field as well as at first and third base.

Choosing between them is a toss-up. Here are their managers’ evaluations.

Walter Alston:

They’re two great guys and they can do everything. They’re both great hitters and receivers and their arms compare favorably, one with the other…I’d say Campy is the best at blocking the low pitch. It’s hard to pick between those two guys.”

Casey Stengel:

Berra is an amazing players and a splendid hitter. Although he’s not built as a track athlete, he’s a very fast player. Campanella is more graceful behind the plate, more adept in handling his glove. But while Berra isn’t as graceful, he has so many points. He’s younger than Campanella and may become greater.

I give a slight edge to Berra, the more durable of the two (2,120 games to 1,215), a better hitter for both average and power (.285 to .276/358 HR to 242).

Except when they went head-to-head in the World Series, Berra and Campanella were each other’s biggest fans.


“Double the fun” is a Friday feature here that looks at one notable doubleheader in baseball history each week.

7 Replies to “Double the fun: Doubleheaders Were Yogi Berra’s Thing; He Caught Both Ends 117 Times”

  1. Catching both ends of 117 doubleheaders is amazing. I wonder who’s 2nd on the list? I’m going to guess it was another pre-expansion era catcher. Somebody like Al Lopez or Rick Ferrell.

  2. Yes, the contest about which center-fielder was the best amongst the NYC teams during the 50s also reverberated in the decision-making process about who was better: “Yogi” or Campanella? Instinctively, I knew that Campanella was better, for he was a Brooklyn Dodger, but with age – and asccrued wisdom – I changed my mind. It was the mercurial #8 who provided the glue that held the NY Yankees together throughout their glorious decade.
    While attending a double dip at Yankee Stadium during that fabulous decade in baseball, I sat behind home plate, and the image that is still indeliby etched in my mind is watching Lawrence Peter Berra squat and seeing those muscular calves, the result, no doubt of catching a helluva lot of double-headers.

  3. I thought Yogi was a little bit better in clutch situations especially from the 7th inning on.
    Campy a little more smoother behind the plate but both were great for their teams.

  4. I was at that doubleheader mentioned above where Yanks lost to A’s two games.
    It said Yogi went oh for 9 but he got robbed by Elmer Valo crashing into the fence and Hank Majesty made a spining (360) catch of a link drive by Yogi. He also made the last out of 2nd game ,a popup
    With Joe on 3rd. 8 to 6

  5. A week before that doubleheader lost i was listening to Mel Allen call one of Dimaggio’s 3 run homers against Gene Bearden in the first inning vs Cleveland and went to bed because game was being held up due to rain.The next day going to school i found out game was rained out.
    Crying my eyes out my father decided to take me to the doubleheader a week later.

  6. Coincidentally, on this day in 1969, Johnny Bench caught both ends of a doubleheader (completely) vs. the Cardinals, totaling 21 innings.

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