Honoring Yogi

YES Network Thinks on its Feet During Day of Remembrance

It was a sad day in Yankeeland last Wednesday when news broke that Yogi Berra, beloved baseball icon and the greatest living New York Yankee, had died at the age of 90. Amid grief, the YES Network production team snapped into action to deliver five hours of live Yogi Berra Remembered coverage on the fly from its Stamford, CT, broadcast center as part of a full day of Yogi memorial coverage, which also included a Yogi-fueled edition of The Michael Kay Show that afternoon and plenty more Berra tributes during that evening’s Yankees-Blue Jays telecast.

“First and foremost, Yogi was baseball royalty,” says YES Network Coordinating Producer Jared Boshnack. “But you have to understand that Yogi was everything. Yogi was a veteran and a key figure on D-Day, Yogi was a pitchman for many commercials and companies after his playing career. Yogi was the coach and manager not only for the Yankees but also for the Mets and the Astros. There is no one that he didn’t touch; it was just a question of how we could put this puzzle together, because you have thousands of pieces.”

And YES Network’s commitment to remembering Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra didn’t end there: it to exclusively televised Berra’s funeral live today (simulcast on FS1).

‘It Gets Late Early Out Here’: A Late Night and Early Wake-Up Call
After the Yankees’ 10-inning 6-4 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, the YES Network production team left the Stamford broadcast center well after midnight. News of Berra’s passing hit the newswire and social media in the wee hours of the night, forcing Boshnack and his staff to begin plotting out plans Remembering Yogi Berra programming on short rest.

Yankees icon Yogi Berra

Yankees icon Yogi Berra

YES began the day by airing Berra editions of Yankeeography and CenterStage, with plans to go live from Stamford at noon ET. In the meantime, Boshnack went over plans for the day with YES Network President of Programming/Production John Filippelli (who was on the West Coast) at 8 a.m. ET, before contacting Director of Programming Mark LaPlace to ensure that they were all on the same page. He then reached out to studio talent Bob Lorenz, Jack Curry, and David Cone — each of whom was extremely close to Berra in his own way — to prepare them to anchor the Yogi Berra Remembered telecast.

YES Network VP of Broadcast Operations Mike Webb and Technical Manager Joe Schiavo (along with chief lieutenants Rob Brinkman and Robin Moore) played an integral role in preparing the coverage, ensuring that the production truck was up and running in Toronto and in full communication with Stamford. Boshnack was also in constant contact with Senior Producer Bill Boland, who was already on hand in the YES Network truck in Toronto, to coordinate onsite interviews with Michael Kay, Ken Singleton, and Yankees coaches and players.

“I can’t stress enough that everybody manned their post. It was a day in which everyone said. ‘How can we help, what can we do,’” says Boshnack. “In Mike Webb’s case, I had told him I wanted to come on the air at noon, and he made sure to get our truck up and running early, no questions asked.”

Arriving in Stamford around 10 a.m., Boshnack had three preproduced long-form features loaded into YES’s on-air playout system (a profile of Yogi’s life, a piece on the innumerable “Yogi-isms,” and a 2009 segment chronicling Berra’s role in the World War II D-Day invasion on its 65th anniversary). He also confirmed that the graphics department had preloaded all its Berra elements (the graphics department created more than 60 pages’ worth of full-screen graphics for the day’s programming).

“Since Yogi was the greatest living Yankee, you know that you had to have a treasure trove of material,” says Boshnack. “But it was a question of how to structure it so it came out in a cohesive way. That is very hard in the moment; I don’t care who you are. You have to trust your instincts and know the people around you are doing the same. You also have to