One of the most cherished traditions of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, one of the Miami Marlins’ minor league teams, is their bat dogs: Canines who retrieve foul balls and bats left behind by hitters.
But of the team’s three most recent bat dogs, one stood out for a very particular reason — he was the only one to be tossed from an actual game.
Now, that dog, Master Yogi Berra, a black Labrador retriever who was a fixture in Greensboro, North Carolina, for nine years, has died, six weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, according to Baseball America.
Master Yogi Berra was the second bat dog in the Grasshoppers’ history, after his sister, Miss Babe Ruth, who retired in 2015. According to the Greensboro News & Record, he didn’t have quite the temperment for the job that his sister did, often failing to bring balls and bats back, instead preferring to play with them and run around.
However, the team put that playful spirit to good use with a between-innings promotion where Master Berra would retrieve a ball in center field. Two fans would then attempt to persuade him to give them the ball.
It was this promotion that led to Berra catapulting into national headlines in 2009 when he stopped to relieve himself on the field. Umpire Jason Hutchings ejected the then-2 year old on the spot, according to the Washington Post, but the team came to Berra’s defense, arguing that he had a stomach virus that meant he couldn’t help it.
“When you gotta go, you gotta go,” team owner Donald Moore said at the time. “Yogi's had a tough start to his season, and I hope this doesn't get him down. He clearly couldn't control himself out there.”
Six weeks ago, Berra was diagnosed with cancer. He returned to the field several times after that, but on Thursday, the decision was made to end his suffering.
“I want to thank all the people who have kept Yogi in their thoughts and prayers since he has been ill. It is incredibly difficult to lose a member of your family, but I know he is now in a great game of fetch in Heaven,” Moore said in a press release, per Fox 8.