Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Chance Meeting with Yogi Berra Helped Foster Chancellor's Love of St. Louis

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Chance Meeting with Yogi Berra Helped Foster Chancellor's Love of St. Louis

Article excerpt

Mark Wrighton sat alone at a table in a Clayton restaurant.

It was dinnertime on a summer night in 1995.

The soon-to-be chancellor of Washington University was preparing his installation speech. He carried with him a book of Yogi Berra quotes. Wrighton had long been a baseball fan.

His father, Robert, joined the Navy right out of high school, so Wrighton lived the life of a military nomad, moving around with his father from base to base. He was born in Jacksonville, Fla., but ended up in Memphis, Tenn. That's where the future chemist would first play Little League baseball.

He fell in love with the game.

All these years later, he found himself in St. Louis, baseball nirvana.

How better to connect with Cardinals fans than using a few words from the ever quotable Berra, who grew up on Elizabeth Avenue on the Hill, and was a St. Louis treasure, even though he earned fame and success as a player and manager for the New York Yankees. The catcher earned a World Series ring for each of his 10 fingers, and played and managed in several others.

He never forgot his beloved St. Louis.

Sitting a few tables over that night were Lu and Bonnie Morse. Lucius Morse was a prominent businessman and newspaper publisher who was on the board at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It was there that the couple had met Wrighton at a reception just a few days earlier.

Knowing Wrighton was new to town, and seeing that he was dining alone, Lu went over to say hi. While there, he noticed the Berra quotes.

"Would you like to meet him?" Morse asked Wrighton.

Berra was married to Bonnie's sister, Carmen. He was having dinner with the Morses.

"It was one of my most rewarding memories here in St. Louis," Wrighton says now. "By the end of the night, I had an autographed baseball and an autographed book. It was an incredible evening."

Bonnie Morse emailed me not long ago to share her memories of the evening. …

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