Where did the baby name Yogi come from in 1953?

Baseball player Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (1925-2015)
Yogi Berra

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, one of the best-ever catchers in professional baseball (and a highly quotable guy), passed away in September at the age of 90.

How did he acquire the nickname “Yogi”?

In his early teens, Berra went to the movies with some friends. Before the main feature played, they saw a short film about India that included a yogi. One of Berra’s friends thought Berra resembled the yogi, so he started calling Berra “Yogi,” and the nickname stuck.

Berra played for the New York Yankees from 1946 until 1963, and it was during this period that Yogi debuted on the SSA’s baby name list as a boy name:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 5 baby boys named Yogi
  • 1961: 5 baby boys named Yogi
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 8 baby boys named Yogi
  • 1958: 6 baby boys named Yogi
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: 9 baby boys named Yogi
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: 6 baby boys named Yogi [debut]
  • 1952: unlisted

Starting in the late ’50s, the name may have been given an extra boost by the popular cartoon character Yogi Bear, who was named with Yogi Berra in mind.

What do you think of Yogi as a legal name?


  • Barra, Allen. Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2009
  • Wikipedia: Yogi Berra, Yogi Bear

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