Born: December 13, 1956
Dale Anthony Berra was born December 13, 1956 in Ridgewood and grew up in Montclair. He was named after Dale Mitchell, who had made the last out in Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game two months before Dale’s birth. Dale was one of four kids born to Yogi and Carmen Berra. One older brother Larry Jr. was a good catching prospect before injuring his knee. His other older brother, Tim, was a football receiver who played briefly in the NFL. Dale was seven when Yogi became manager of the Yankees in 1964, and recalls hob-nobbing with the likes of Mickey Mantle , Whitey Ford and Roger Maris.
Dale was a standout shortstop for Montclair High School. His lusty hitting for the Mounties and his baseball pedigree made him the 20th overall pick in the 1975 draft, by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dale showed good power in the minors, playing mostly at third base—which earned him call-ups to Pittsburgh in 1977, 1978 and 1979. The 1979 team won the World Series. Although Dale was not on the postseason roster, he received a championship ring for his contribution.
In 1980, he made the Pirates out of spring training and stayed with the club all year, backing up Phil Garner, Tim Foli and Bill Madlock. In 1982, Dale had progressed enough for the Pirates to trade Foli, and he served as the team’s everyday shortstop over the next three seasons. In 1982, he drove in 61 runs, mostly from the 7 or 8 spot in the batting order.
Dale had 25 doubles and 10 home runs two years in a row, but slumped slightly in 1984. After the season, he was part of a trade with the Yankees that sent Foli back to Pittsburgh along with free agent bust Steve Kemp. New York’s manager was Dale’s dad. It should have been a fun year, but George Steinbrenner fired Yogi three weeks into the season and Billy Martin played Dale sparingly.
The Yankees released Dale in July of 1986 and he played the remainder of the season in Houston’s minor league system. He saw action in a handful of games with the Astros in 1987 before being released after the year. He signed his final pro contract with the Orioles but did not make the club in 1988. When he failed to hit his weight at Class-AAA Rochester, Dale hung up his spikes at the age of 31.
During the early 1980s, Dale had gotten involved in the drug culture of the Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse. It may have explained his production drop-off in what should have been his baseball prime. He avoided suspension by MLB with a commitment to community service, but a year after he retired from baseball, he was arrested for cocaine possession. Eventually, he straightened himself out and took control of his father’s brand, running LTD Enterprises along with Tim and Larry. LTD (which stands for Larry Tim Dale) includes the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Montclair.