Lawmakers Urge President Obama to Award Yogi Berra the Presidential Medal of Freedom
WASHINGTON, DC – Ahead of today’s Annual Congressional Baseball Game, today U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Tom Marino (R-PA) and Joe Crowley (D-NY) led a bipartisan coalition of thirty-six lawmakers in urging President Obama to Award Yankees legend Yogi Berra the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In a letter to President Obama, the lawmakers cited the former Yankees’ many accomplishments on and off the field as reason to award Berra the highest civilian award of the United States.
“As a strong advocate for civil rights during a time when Major League Baseball was embracing the first black and Latino players, Berra had an a profound impact in the baseball community and across America,” the lawmakers wrote. “Over the years we have watched proudly as Berra brought the Yankees numerous victories, continued his leadership as a manager of both the Yankees and Mets, and fought for priorities that bring out the best in our country. As a champion and hero in more ways than can be counted, Berra is an American icon who is deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
Earlier this week, supporters were successful in obtaining more than 100,000 signatures on a whitehouse.gov petition urging support in bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Berra, surpassing the threshold needed to require an official response from the White House.
Rep. Pascrell first urged President Obama to award Berra the Presidential Medal of Freedom last month in recognition of the Yankees legend’s 90th birthday.
The Annual Congressional Baseball Game, scheduled for this evening at 7:05pm at Nationals Park, brings together lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in a showdown to raise funds for The Washington Literacy Council, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.
The full text of the letter follows:
June 10, 2015
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We write to urge you to award Yogi Berra the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his commitment to educational excellence, social justice, and respected military service. As the son of Italian immigrants, Pietro and Paolina Berra, Berra is one of the most respected baseball players of all time and is the embodiment of the American dream.
Throughout Berra’s impressive 19-year baseball career, he was an All-Star for 15 seasons, named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times and has appeared in an astounding 21 World Series, including winning 13 World Series championships and catching the only perfect game in a World Series. However, Berra’s civic resume reads like his baseball statistics — exceptional — and deserves to be recognized. As a strong advocate for civil rights during a time when Major League Baseball was embracing the first black and Latino players, Berra had an a profound impact in the baseball community and across America. Now, he serves as an ambassador for Athlete Ally, where he champions LGBT rights in sports. Before Berra’s time on the baseball diamond, he served his country by enlisting in the U. S. Navy during World War II, where he served as a gunner's mate on the USS Bayfield during the D-Day invasion of France.
Berra has demonstrated an admirable commitment to improving his community and our country as a whole. For instance, in 1959 when the Yankees hosted Yogi Berra Day, he asked that the proceeds help establish a scholarship at Columbia University so future students who didn’t have the financial means to attend would be able to receive an outstanding education. Furthermore, he continues to support educational opportunities through the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center located in Montclair, NJ, which supports character education programs that teach the values of respect, sportsmanship and inclusion – qualities that Berra has demonstrated throughout his life and career.
Over the years we have watched proudly as Berra brought the Yankees numerous victories, continued his leadership as a manager of both the Yankees and Mets, and fought for priorities that bring out the best in our country. As a champion and hero in more ways than can be counted, Berra is an American icon who is deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
(Signatories of the letter include Reps. Lou Barletta, Bob Brady, Tony Cardenas, Andre Carson, Yvette Clarke, Joe Crowley, Ryan Costello, Mike Doyle, Eliot Engel, Christopher Gibson, Raúl Grijalva, Jared Huffman, Steve Israel, Daniel Kildee, John Larson, Ted Lieu, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Tom Marino, Jerry McNerney, Gregory Meeks, Patrick Murphy, Jerrold Nadler, Richard Neal, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Donald Payne, Jr., Charles Rangel, Raul Ruiz, Tim Ryan, Linda Sanchez, Kurt Schrader, José Serrano, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires and Timothy Walz.)