Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Charlie Silvera: Playing in the Shadow of Yogi Berra


Charlie Silvera was born in San Francisco in 1924, grew up in the Mission District, and attended St. Ignatius High School before signing with the Yankees for a $2,500 bonus in 1942. He would go on to languish for eight full seasons as a backup to Yogi Berra. Although he received six World Series championship rings along the way, Silvera must always wonder what he could have done had Berra not been the starter for all those great Yankee teams of the 40’s and 50’s. Silvera went on to coach and scout for a variety of MLB clubs and currently resides in the beautiful hills of Millbrae in Northern California and works as a scout for the Cubs.

Relationship with Berra: “In 1948, I was called up late in the season because the Yankees' number two catcher got hurt. Yogi had been playing the outfield that season, so they brought him in, made him the number one catcher, and I became his backup. Yogi had natural talent, and Bill Dickey refined him. In 1950, I didn’t get to bat until June 17th. We were the best of friends. We ran around together, we got along great.”

Yogi-isms: “A lot of them were obviously made up, mostly by reporters, but a lot of them he said on his own. A few of them happened when I was in his company and they never got recorded. One time, we were going to go, on an off-day, to a dinner to speak. The Yankee PR guy came by and asked Yogi, do you want to go to this affair, you know, you have an off day. Charlie’s gonna go. So Yogi said – what are they gonna give us? And I told him, well, I think they’re gonna give us a .20 Gauge Remington. And, Yogi, said, Great! I’ve always wanted a camera!”

Billy Martin and Carousing: “They got rid of Billy because they thought he was a bad influence on Mantle – all Mantle did was win the Triple Crown. They also blamed Billy for the incident at the Copa. I’d have been there, but we left early. I had left. Mantle and Billy, they roomed together, they had their fun. But, the older guys kind of policed the younger guys, you know, I was considered a veteran by then. I roomed with Collins, and we would police the younger kids, if they got out of line, we told them – you’re messing with our money, and you don’t do that. If they persisted, we’d tell them, you better get rid of this guy, because he’s not a Yankee.”

“We made a pact. One day, late in both our careers, Billy and I were sitting on the Yankee bench, neither of us were playing, and Billy told me that if he ever got a job managing the Oakland Oaks, you’ll be my coach. And I told him, “If I ever manage the Seals, you’ll be my coach.” And by God, when he got the job managing with Minnesota, he called us. Billy was a blue collar fan’s type of guy. The fans loved him because he fought millionaires, but that was the worst thing to do. You don’t fight millionaires. You don’t fight owners. But, he would get a little upset at times. When I could see he was going to get into something, I’d say, listen, I can’t run and I can’t fight, so be careful tonight. And we’d go somewhere, and someone would get in front of him and he’d want to fight ‘em. He never backed down from anybody. Everybody knew he wasn’t afraid of nobody.”

DiMaggio: “Joe alienated a lot of people because he wouldn’t kiss their ass, especially people from the old neighborhood. But, that was Joe.”

About the Writer

Ed Attanasio is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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