Vale Yogi Berra, 1925-2015

Australian football had Jack Dyer.

Baseball had Yogi Berra.

There are many apocryphal sayings in sport. Jack Dyer is reported, while coaching the Tigers, to have instructed his players at training one night to “pair off in threes.”

“It ‘aint over ’til it’s over”, “you can observe a lot, just by watching” and “nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded” are just some of the phrases attributed to Berra in his time as one of the longest serving catchers in Yankee history.

Like Jack Dyer, Berra is also synonymous with one of the most successful eras of his team’s history.

You don’t need to know a lot about Baseball to appreciate Berra’s legacy to the game. If you’re the kind of fan who appreciates persistence and succeeding when others expected you to fail and coming up with the goods in crunch moments again, and again, and again, then the story of Lawrence Peter Berra is one you should take great delight in learning about.

After all, not many sportspeople get a cartoon character named after them (yup, that’s right, Yogi the Bear) and while some players will be remembered for drug abuse, gambling addictions and a whole range of cautionary tales, a Museum and Learning Centre – not to mention a berth in the baseball Hall of Fame – is not a bad legacy to leave behind.

 

Universally known simply as Yogi, probably the second most recognizable nickname in sports — even Yogi was not the Babe — Berra was not exactly an unlikely hero, but he was often portrayed as one: an All-Star for 15 consecutive seasons whose skills were routinely underestimated; a well-built, appealingly open-faced man whose physical appearance was often belittled; and a prolific winner — not to mention a successful leader… That he triumphed on the diamond again and again in spite of his perceived shortcomings was certainly a source of his popularity. So was the delight with which his famous, if not always documentable, pronouncements — somehow both nonsensical and sagacious — were received.

 

You can read Bruce Weber’s excellent tribute to Yogi Berra via THIS LINK to the New York Times website, which includes a brilliant multi-media homage to one of sports’ great characters and genuine legends.

About Stone Cold Steve Baker Thompson Harvey Duckworth

Weapons-grade Grump. Quixotic. Jack of all Trades and Master of None. Ex-power forward for Melbourne Superules FC. Quoter of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm at inappropriate moments. Gun-for-hire, sleep enthusiast, contrarian. Meshuggener. Nebbish. Kibitzer. The dude abides.

Comments

  1. One of my favourite sayings is “it’s deja vu all over again” and I didn’t know it originated with Yogi until last night. He must have been a character, and a hell of a baseball player. Thanks for the memories.

  2. Absolutely TG!

    I can only just wrap my head around baseball lingo, but Yogi Berra’s story is fantastic. One helluva player – and delivered when he had to!

  3. I thought Yogi would have died long ago. He’s one of those iconic names in US sports but tbh I didn’t know much about him. You’ve prompted me to find out more. I love those Dyer/Yogi-isms.
    Thanks Steve.

  4. Love this stuff Steve.
    Of all the Yank sports, baseball is the one that seems to capture the soul of the nation, it’s names and characters transcend the sport itself, Ty Cobb, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Lou Gehrig,Babe Ruth,Joe Dimmagio, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson.
    I too couldn’t believe Berra was still alive, what an amazing bloke, and thanks for sharing it…. makes me want to drag out that Burns documentary again.

  5. Thanks Bakes.
    I read that Weber article this morning. Brilliant.
    I didn’t know that he was willingly out in the cold for 14 years (a la KB).

  6. JD – The stories behind some of the great ball players would be right up your alley. As Cowshed End suggests, get hold of Ken Burns’ history of Baseball documentary series and get comfy. It is amazing – even if it drowns at times in pathos and sentimentality. Check out Branch Rickey, Rube Wadell, Jim McGraw and Christy Mathewson, Josh Gibson and Walter Johnson. not to mention Honus Wagner, Sandy Koufax and Ted Williams – The Boston Bomber.

    Cowshed – How could you leave out two of the best nicknames in baseball? Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige and James ‘Cool Papa’ Bell? That doco by Ken Burns is just sensational!

    Smokie – Yep. Berra and Steinbrenner was one of the most famous feuds in American sports history. Would have been amazing to be in the Bronx the day he returned, but then as a Mets fan, I couldn’t care less about the Yankees ;-)

  7. Cowshedend – Ken Burns has guaranteed an “11th inning” of his Baseball documentary series

    You’ll never guess what the storyline WILL revolve around……….

    Based on what’s happened after the all-star break he might need to get a wriggle on.

    MCR

  8. Via Timothy Boyle today on Twitter:
    Roger Angell on yer Yogi, In the New Yorker

    http://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/postscript-yogi-berra-1925-2015

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