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Yogi Berra, Yankees Hall of Famer, remembered at funeral

Memorabilia of New York Yankees Hall of Fame

Memorabilia of New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra is on display at a store near the Church of the Immaculate Conception before funeral services for the late baseball star, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in Montclair, N.J. The baseball legend known for his quirky sayings died Sept. 22. He was 90. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Credit: AP / Julio Cortez

MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Yogi Berra "personified the American dream," as Joe Torre put it in his eulogy, a fact illustrated Tuesday by the broad range of friends from inside and outside baseball who joined Berra's family at his funeral.

The list was long and represented the arc of a 90-year life and 70 years in pro ball, including former Yankees Bobby Richardson, Phil Linz, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Mariano Rivera, David Cone, David Wells, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, and current players including Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia, general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi.

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, Dodgers Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax and Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel, also were among those inside the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

The hourlong service was closed to fans and reporters, about 125 of whom watched from across the street and listened on loudspeakers set up outside the church.

Dozens of law enforcement officers from cities around the metropolitan area were on hand to help the local authorities manage the event. The service was televised locally by the YES Network and nationally on Fox Sports 1.

Young men and women from the U.S. Navy ringed the sidewalk outside church in tribute to Berra, who was part of the U.S. forces that invaded France on D-Day in 1944.

Berra's best and oldest friend, Joe Garagiola, 89, is ailing and was unable to attend but was represented by his son.

Torre said he was invited to deliver the eulogy shortly after learning of Berra's death on Sept. 22. The former Yankees manager was vacationing with his wife in Italy at the time.

"It caught me off guard," Torre said. "It's an honor to be considered for that, to be able to do it . . . It kept me up a lot [at night]. There are so many things that you wanted to talk about."

Torre told a couple of Berra stories that evoked knowing laughs, such as when he told Torre he was recording a commercial for Amtrak when he meant Aflac.

"He affected so many people in such a positive way," Torre said. "The American treasure leaves behind a legacy of integrity, kindness and respect for all. Today we celebrate his amazing impact on others. We celebrate his uncanny ability to make people smile, even those who don't really care for baseball."

Before Torre spoke, the youngest of Berra's three sons, Dale, welcomed everyone and said, "The last few weeks of my dad's life were spent kneeling in the on-deck circle of life" before being called upon by God to join his team.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York compared Berra to Pope Francis, whom he hosted in New York last week, noting their parents were from the same area of Italy. Dolan added: "The smile, the open face, the innate courtesy, the aw-shucks attitude, the earthy grasp of heavenly and eternal values, even the big ears, are they not similar?"

Dolan later evoked a couple of Yogi-isms in describing life's spiritual road, saying: "We are on a journey back to Him for all eternity and there's no fork in the road on that journey, everybody, and that life ain't ever over."

The Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center on the campus of Montclair State University will host a public memorial from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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