On Dec. 11, 2021, the Inserra Chair offered a guided tour of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center led by Education Director Jenny Pollack. The tour focused on the immigration narrative of Yogi Berra’s parents who came to the U.S. from Italy in the early 20th century, and the subsequent challenges and opportunities the future Hall of Famer faced as an Italian American playing our national pastime. The program explored the stories of other Italian American players, examining friendships in baseball that crossed lines of culture and race. Highlights included: growing up on “The Hill” – the Italian American neighborhood of St. Louis, MO; Yogi’s close friendship with Joe Garagiola, fellow Italian American, baseball player and Hall of Fame sports announcer; and Yogi’s special connection to (fellow St. Louis native) Elston Howard, the New York Yankees’ first African American baseball player, former Negro Leaguer and Yogi’s catching mentee (this last aspect was tied to the current exhibit Discover Greatness: An Illustrated History of Negro Leagues Baseball).
“It was really emotional to hold an in-person even after two years, and I felt fortunate to be able to do it in an environment like the Yogi Berra Museum whose solid content, care for safety, and warmth has made it into an ideal partner for Inserra,” stated Dr. Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair, Montclair State University). “I am very pleased that after offering tours to high school students as part of the Early College Summer Intensive Program, we offered the tour to the broader community of MSU alumni, thanks to our long-term collaboration with the Alumni office on campus. On Dec. 13 the tour was also presented to MSU students taking the Italian Americans in Film class that I have taught this semester in two sections. Yogi Berra’s life is a perfect window into Italian American history at large while the current exhibit created the conditions for a very topical discussion of race issues,” Teresa Fiore concluded.
The event was organized and fully sponsored by the Inserra Endowed Chair at Montclair State University in partnership with the Office of Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement and in collaboration with the Italian Program (Dept. of World Languages and Cultures).