Even though the grass is buried deep in snow, baseball fans in Montclair can take heart with this Yogi Berra story recently reported by Josh Shaffer at the News & Observer in Nash County, NC.
Back in 1974, Bob Bartosz, a photographer, was covering a Phillies-Mets game for the Courier-Post in Camden, NJ. Before the game coaches were smacking balls to players for fielding practice. One coach whacked an older baseball so hard the ball’s stitched covering came off and fell to the ground. A player picked it up and tossed it to Bartosz. As the photographer walked off the field he noticed Berra, then the Mets manager, talking with some sportswriters. Bartosz called out to Yogi asking him if he could sign a baseball. The genial manager agreed and Bartosz tossed him the skin. Expecting a heavier ball, Berra was surprised, but signed it and said: “That’s the first time I ever signed a baseball that wasn’t a baseball.”
Bartosz, a New Jersey native, later moved to North Carolina and still has the cowhide with Yogi’s signature.