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The 1950s proved itself to be a great decade in sports history. Numerous extraordinary athletes made their way into professional sports. In addition to these impressive athletes, several records were beaten and made in the world of professional sports. Some of the Infamous Athletes of 1950 were Yogi Berra, Maureen Connolly, and Rocky Marciano.

Yogi Berra

"You have to give 100% in the first half of the game, and if that isn't enough, in the second half, you give what's left."
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Yogi Berra was born as Lawrence Peter Berra on May 12, 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri. His nickname came from a childhood friend named Bobby Hoffman, who stated that Berra resembled a Hindu holy man named yogi from a movie about an Indian snake charmer. The New York Yankees signed Yogi Berra in 1942 after Yankees scout Leo Browne convinced the Yankees that Berra was indeed worth $500. During World War II, at the age of 18, Lawrence Berra entered the Navy. He was able to participate in the D-Day Invasion at Omaha Beach and served in both North Africa and Italy.

In 1946, Yogi Berra officially began his career with the New York Yankees as a platoon catcher alongside Aaron Robinson, Charlie Silvera, and Gus Niarhos. He was known as a "wild swinger", however, his "wild swing" did not cause him to strike out often. Berra went on to become a 15-time All Star. Also, he won American League (AL) MVP three times, in 1951, 1954, and 1955. Yogi played in 14 World Series and holds records that include most games by a catcher with 69, most hits with 71, and most times on a winning team with 10. Also, he World Series records for first in at bats & doubles, second in RBI's, and third in home runs & BOB's. Out of all of these , the most notorious of Yogi Berra's records occurred in 1947, where he hit the first pinch hit home run in World Series history.

After the 1950's decade, Lawrence Berra continued to work in the world of baseball. In 1964, Berra was named manager of the New York Yankees and they went on to win the American League pennant; however, he was later fired after losing a seven-game series to the St. Louis Cardinals. After this, he signed with the New York Mets as a player-coach; but, in 1972 he was named Mets' manager after the death of Gil Hodges. In 1975, Berra was dismissed from the Mets and went back to the Yankees as a coach in 1976. Yogi Berra's position as coach changed in 1984, when George Steinbrenner hired Berra as Yankees' manager. Yogi was later replaced as Yankees' manager and 1986 he went on to coach the Houston Astros until his retirement in 1992.

Maureen Connolly

"Tennis is a grind and there's always the danger of going stale if you think about it too much."

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Maureen Catherine Connolly was born September 17, 1934 in San Diego California. At the age of 10, she began playing tennis and after a few months of training under a professional, she entered her first tournament. In 1947 Maureen won the girl's 15-and-under title in the Southern California Invitational. By the age of 15, Connolly had over 50 championships under her belt. In 1949 she was the first girl to win the national junior championship and in 1950 she dfended her title. In 1951 Maureen Connoly won 8 major tournaments and helped lead the U.S. Wightman Cup team to a win. In September of 1951 Connolly won the women's singles at the U.S. Open. In 1952 she went on to regain her title, along with winning the Wimbledon championship. However, in 1953, Maureen Connolly surpassed all of her prior accomplishments by competing in the Austrlian, French, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open. She went on to win her third Wimbledon title and second French title in 1954. This would be the last of her playing accomplishments because later in 1954 she crushed her leg in a horseback riding accident. After the accident she continued to work in the field of tennis as a tennis instructor until she died of cancer on June 21, 1969 in Dallas, Texas.

Rocky Marciano

"I have always adhered to two principles. One is to train hard and get in the best possible physical condition. The second is to forget all about the other fellow until you face him in the ring and the bell sounds for the fight."

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Rocky Marciano was born Rocco Francis Marchegiano on September 1, 1923 in Brockton Massachusetts. As a pre-teen, he would play baseball everyday and afterwards he would go home and lift some homemade weightlifting equipment. Although as a teen Rocco had an interest in boxing, he wanted to be a baseball player, not a boxer and he became famous in his neighborhood for his potential as a possible major league star. At the age of 15, Marchegiano entered high school and played on the football team as a center and on the baseball team as a catcher, however he later changed to right field after being told he was slow. Shortly after his school baseball controversy, he joined a church baseball league. He was then cut from the school team for violating the school rule that players could not join other teams. Eventually he became frustrated at this fact and strated cutting classes, which led to him completely dropping out of school.

Around the age of 20, Marchegiano was summoned by the US Army to serve in England but was later discharged and sent back to the States because the war was coming to an end. While waiting for his discharge, he took part in an amateur boxing tournament where he represented the Army and won. Upon returning to the States, Rocco took on Henry Lester in a non-official fight where he was disqualified for hitting Lester in the groin. His next big fight was in the national AAU championships where he won his first 2 bouts by first-round knockouts. However, this joyous event came to an end by the third bout when he decided to lose the competition due to his damamged knuckles. Rocky Balboa entered the ring as a professional boxer for the first time on March 17, 1947 in a match where he defeated Lee Eperson by knockout in three rounds. After this, Rocky went on to win the next 15 bouts by knockout, in which all but one was before the fourth round and nine before the firt round was over. A great challenge presented itself to Marciano on May 23, 1949, when Don Mogard lasted the distance. However, Rocky went on to win this fight by decision. After this, Marciano went on to win more fights by both knockout and unanimous decision. Rocky Marciano made his first national television appearance on July 12, 1951, when he knocked out Rex Layne in six rounds. He made his second national television appearance in Joe Louis' las career bout. Rocky also won this fight by a knockout, in eight rounds. On September 23, 1952, in Philadelphia, Rocky Marciano faced world Heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott. Despite being dropped in round one of the match, Marciano won the fight by knockout in the thirteenth round and became the world's Heavyweight champion. A year later he defended and retained his title by knocking out Walcott in the first round. Marciano went on to defeat Heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles, in which he won the first bout by decision and the second by eight-round knockout. He defeated British and European champion Don Cocknell in nine rounds. In his last bout of his career, Rocky Marciano retained his title as Heavyweight champion by knocking out light-Heavyweight champion Archie Moore.

Rocky Maricano ended his career with a record of 49-0, 43 of which were knockout wins. To this day he holds records for going the longest undefeated and for being the only world Heavyweight champion to go undefeated through his entire career. Marciano won the Hickok Belt for top professional athlete in 1952 and is also a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

More 1950's Info

1950's Home page
Music of the 1950s
The Korean War
Art of the 1950s
1950's Literature