WASHINGTON, April 21, 2012 — Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra retired from playing baseball in 1965, holding 20 Major League Baseball records. After retirement from play, he managed ball clubs for five years. Since 2000, he has been reunited with the New York Yankees and has coached the team during spring training.
Born on May 12, 1925, Yogi Berra is now moving toward becoming a nonpareil nonagenarian with a storied baseball career.
From his very first at-bat in a New York Yankees uniform, in which he hit a home run, Berra has distinguished himself in all areas of the game. He would play on more championship teams than any ballplayer. He is one of only four men to be elected MVP of the American League three times.
Yogi appeared in 18 All-Star Games and in 21 World Series. He garnered ten World Series Championship rings, but he lists as a career highlight his role in catching the only perfect game in a Worlds Series.
His leaping embrace of pitcher Don Larsen at the end of the game is considered the most iconic of baseball photographs (video above).
In addition, Yogi, with a little help from his friends, has written a number of books. Conversely, more than a few books have been written about this Hall of Fame ballplayer. A new book has appeared this month on the Internet and in bookstores.
“Driving Mr. Yogi” by Harvey Araton details the friendship between two great Yankees, catcher Yogi Berra and pitcher Ron Guidry. Bonding between the two men began at spring training in 1999. Guidry was assigned the job of picking up Yogi at the Tampa airport and chauffeuring him around. Despite their generational differences, the two men hit it off. Their meetings at spring training developed into a close personal friendship.
Yogi More Quoted Than Shakespeare?
Furthermore, Yogi not only happens to be the most quoted sports figure in history, he is among the most quoted Americans. The latest edition of “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations” gives Yogi Berra eight entries, which is more than any living president can boast.
“I don’t think people quote Shakespeare so much as they now quote Yogi Berra,” says author Dave Kaplan. “Can you imagine a commencement speech without a Yogi quote, such as, ‘When you come to the fork in the road, take it’? It’s impossible to conceive.”
America’s fascination with Yogi Berra’s twist on the English language has not waned through the years. He has, in fact, originated a whole lexicon of maxims, which have been compiled in numerous books and magazine articles. These often serve as party “ice-breakers.” One can simply say, “Well, as Yogi Berra said…” and provide a quote. A guaranteed laugh will follow and immediately a robust conversation is underway.
He is renowned for such statements as: “I never answer an anonymous letter,” “You can observe a lot just by watching,” or “It gets late early out here.”
Yogi’s ability to coin a malapropism, spoonerism, or paronomasia continues through the years. Many of them possess a kind of Zen-like wisdom. Who can really argue against, “It’s not over till it’s over”?
In 1999, when he was asked to comment on the death of his friend Joe DiMaggio, Yogi said: “He was the greatest living player I ever saw.”
At the classic All-Star Game celebrations of 2008, Yogi looked into the camera and confidently said, “You’re gonna remember this night as long as I live.”
That same year, Reader’s Digest sponsored a contest of “Yogiisms,” in which readers were asked to create and submit quotes a la Yogi Berra. The results were published, in July, and yours truly enjoyed having two submissions on the top-ten list.
The Author Does His Own Yogisms
Here are some new ones I’ve added. I look forward to reading any you may place in the Comments box.
1. It would be easier to accept you as you are if you were different.
2. I wish I knew now what I thought I knew then.
3. If you don’t see what I’m saying, maybe you’re listening in the wrong direction
4. If my father was alive to hear that, he’d turn over in his grave.
5. Your idea is different from mine; mine isn’t.
6. It seems like I’m always the first to be the last to know.
7. He’s in denial and won’t admit it.
8. I knew he was the kind of jerk who makes snap judgments the minute I met him.
9. If you find out you drove past where you’re going, you’ve gone too far.
10. I don’t care what he says, you’ve got to be open-minded.
11. I feel more like I do now than I did when I came in.
12. Let’s not burn that bridge behind us till we come to it.
13. I only said half of what they said I said — they made up the other 70 percent.
14. I want to learn patience and I want to learn it fast!
15. I’ll see you in August or November, whichever comes first.
16. If my cardiologist saw me eating this, he’d kill me.
17. I’d like to “live in the moment,” but I don’t have the time.
18. This country is greater than any other planet in the world.
19. If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not know when you get there.
20. I slept good last night except for the hours I was awake.
While Yogi did not create the above sayings, he definitely inspired them. Yogi, of course, said of his own credited quotes, “You know, I didn’t say everything I said.”
In exactly three weeks, Yogi Berra will turn 87 years old. Our gratitude for him lives on.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. BERRA! You keep teaching young people baseball, and we’ll keep looking forward with glee to your next witticism.
Vance Garnett’s writings have appeared in major newspapers and magazines. They have won the praise of such luminaries as Paul Harvey, William Safire, and Shirley Povich. Vance has shared his life experiences and knowledge of D.C. with the Washington Historical Society, the Kiwanis clubs of the Washington area, and on WAMU’s “Kojo Nnamdi Show.”
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.