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Berra misses Old-Timers' Day after falling near home

Former New York Yankees great Yogi Berra remarks

Former New York Yankees great Yogi Berra remarks about the passing of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner from his museum in Montclair, N.J. Tuesday, July 13, 2010. George Steinbrenner, who rebuilt the New York Yankees into a sports empire with a mix of bluster and big bucks that polarized fans all across America, died Tuesday, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz) Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rich Schultz

It got late early out there at Yankee Stadium for the favorite son who was supposed to have been announced last. Yogi Berra missed Old-Timers' Day because he was recovering from a fall Friday night.

A statement from his family said, "Yogi fell down last night near our house and suffered some bruises. He is now recovering at home. He is extremely disappointed he is unable to participate in today's Old-Timers ceremonies and see so many of his friends. He appreciates all the well-wishes and hopes to be up and about very soon.''

In recent years, Berra, 85, has ascended to the honor spot in the Old-Timers introductions once held by Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle - that of the final former Yankee introduced. As it was, Whitey Ford was the final player introduced, referred to as the "greatest pitcher in Yankees history."

The Hall of Fame catcher and former manager is beloved for his stellar career, his performance in big games and his blunt manner of speaking, which produced such aphorisms as "It ain't over 'til it's over" and "it gets late early out there." The Yankees saluted him with a video during the Old-Timers ceremony and with a sign on the video screen - "We Miss You Yogi" - in the third inning of the Yankees-Rays game.

One of his former teammates, star reliever Luis Arroyo, suffered a heart attack during a cruise for the alumni Friday night and also missed Old-Timers' Day. The club did not release details on his condition or the hospital in which he is being treated.

There was no formal tribute to George Steinbrenner. The Yankees have said a public memorial service will be held soon. It will be hard for the organization to come up with a symbolic gesture to match those for which Steinbrenner was famous - such as leaving the spot empty behind home plate before the first game after the 1979 death of catcher Thurman Munson.

"I certainly can't think for George; he was way beyond me," said Munson's widow, Diana, who was among the honorees. "He loved the tradition, the history. That's what the Yankees are all about." As for the pregame gesture to honor her husband, she said, "It was perfect. It really was."

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