|Yogi Berra/Credit: James H. Burns|
March 25, 1965 was a historic day in the history of New York Yankees managers. The Yankees were coming off of their record-tying five consecutive AL pennant, as they prepared to host their crosstown rivals the New York Mets in an exhibition game in Ft. Lauderale, FL on that date.
In 1964 the Yankees stunned the baseball world, firing the popular Yogi Berra after one season as their manager, following a Game 7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Berra was replaced by the man who managed the Cards to that championship, Johnny Keane.
Now the Yankees were hosting the Mets, the ninth time the clubs had met in either spring training or the annual Mayor’s Trophy game. It was also the first time Yogi would cross paths with his former club.
Also in attendance on this intriguing day were Ralph Houk, the Yankees vice-president and general
manager, who fired Berra and Mets manager Casey Stengel, who preceded Houk as Yankees manager. In other words, under the Florida sunshine in this not-so-usual spring training game were the previous four managers of the Yankees: Stengel, Houk, Berra and Keane.
The New York Times reported that day that there was no interaction, before the game, between Keane and Berra or Houk and Berra but that there was plenty of interaction and kidding between Berra and his former teammates. Keane, however, did cross the field and enter the Mets dugout, accommodating photographers who wanted a picture with him and Stengel.
Berra told the media, “I’ll root for the Yankees – in the other league.”
In the game, with Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn on the mound – he pitched six innings of one-run ball – the Mets beat the Yanks, 3-2, to take a 5-4 lead in the series.
The Yankees beat the Mets in St. Petersburg the next day, 8-0, with Berra, Stengel and Keane posing together for a picture.
As for the game in Ft. Lauderdale, the Times reported that most of the 6,130 fans in the Yankees’ ballpark were rooting for the Mets. Those same Mets fans would have more to cheer about as the 1965 season wore on. The Yankees never came close to a record sixth-straight pennant, finishing with their first losing mark in 40 years, as their dynasty started to crumble.