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Archive for August 18th, 2017

Yogi Berra, the Greensboro Grasshoppers “ball dog,” is put down as cancer worsens

yogi

Master Yogi Berra, the black Labrador retriever who delighted fans between innings at Greensboro Grasshoppers games, died yesterday — the day before his planned retirement party.

The 9-year-old dog served as the minor league baseball team’s “ball dog,” fetching balls from the outfield during between-inning promotions.

He was diagnosed with cancer this summer and, amid declining health, made his last appearance Tuesday in the Hoppers game against the Hickory Crawdads.

“I think he did it only because he wanted to make me happy,” Donald Moore, team president and Yogi’s owner, told the Greensboro News & Record.

“I don’t think he had any desire to do it, and that’s just not Yogi,” Moore added. “I didn’t shoot the ball very far. He went and got it, and he brought it back, and I could tell. The next morning he seemed so much worse than he had just the night before.”

The Hoppers had planned a retirement party for Yogi during tonight’s game. Instead the team will hold a ceremony in his memory.

“I really thought he would make it through the season. I wasn’t worried about losing him for another couple of months. But, oh my gosh, when it started happening, it happened fast,” Moore said. “He was ready to go, and you don’t punish the dog by putting it off. You don’t keep him in pain just to have a party.”

Moore found a lump on Yogi’s neck in June. A specialist at N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, diagnosed an inoperable malignant tumor that originated in a salivary gland and had spread down the neck and into the chest.

Yogi was one of three dogs the team has featured over the years. His older sister, Miss Babe Ruth, fetched players’ bats and took baseballs to the home plate umpire from 2006 until her retirement at the end of the 2015 season.

Miss Lou Lou Gehrig, a niece of Yogi and Babe, is the current bat dog for the team.

Yogi was a little more free spirited than those two, and never mastered the bat dog job.

Instead, for eight years, he fetched balls shot into centerfield during a between-innings promotion.

Three weeks into his job, Yogi made national news when an umpire kicked him off the field him for leaving a mess in the outfield, becoming the only dog ever ejected from a professional baseball game.

“People love that dog,” Moore said. “A lot of people are going to be just as heartbroken as we are… We knew it was coming. Unfortunately, everything we tried didn’t work. … It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when things changed, but he started slipping last week and every day he was declining more and more.”

Moore made the decision Wednesday to have Yogi put down.

(Photo: By Nelson Kepley / Greensboro News & Record)