Yogi to Whitey: ``You dead yet?''

Tuesday, May 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. (AP) — Yogi Berra, concerned about reports that Whitey Ford had a recurrence of cancer, called his former New York Yankees batterymate and immediately uttered a Yogiism.

``You dead yet?'' Berra asked.

``I'm still here,'' Ford assured him.

Berra recounted the conversation Tuesday and said Ford was ``fine. He'll be all right.''

Berra said he was told the 71-year-old Ford had skin cancer, which was blamed on ``too much sun.''

``He had his last chemotherapy about 2 1/2 weeks ago,'' Berra said. ``He lost about 25 pounds, but he said he put seven right back.''

Ford had surgery more than five years ago to remove a growth behind an ear.

The Yankees and Ford have declined to give details of the Hall of Fame pitcher's latest illness, though Ford said it was diagnosed in November.

Berra lost teammates Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle to cancer.

Ford was one of four pitchers Berra mentioned when asked who was the best he ever caught in 18 years with the Yankees.

``It's impossible to pick the best,'' Berra said. ``You take your pick — Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds, Eddie Lopat and Whitey. I wouldn't be afraid to call on either one of them.''

Berra, who will be 75 Friday, was at the Yogi Berra Museum to help promote the launching of a ``Monopoly Game, New York Yankees collectors' edition.''

The usual Atlantic City locations are replaced on the Monopoly board by Yankees heroes, including Berra, Ford, Phil Rizzuto, Don Mattingly, Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

DiMaggio and Mantle were conspicuous by their absence. Their estates wouldn't give permission, according to Dane Chapin, president and CEO of USAOPOLY, which produced the game.

The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers also had Monopoly boards made for them recently, and there are similar boards for NASCAR, the NFL's Cleveland Browns and several cities.

Berra came out the winner in a game he played with his wife, Carmen; son Dale, and granddaughter Bridgette Berra.

Berra flashed the smile of a winner as he counted his winnings. ``You have to land on the high-priced property,'' he said. ``That's when it's good.''