Tuesday, March 24, 2009


My dad used to love all the television ads with Yogi Berra in them, whether it be the AFLAC duck commercials or just plain ole’ Yogi. It didn’t really matter. Dad always laughed at whatever Yogi had to say. Truth of the matter is, Yogi in his day was quite a ballplayer, too. An all-star catcher for the New York Yankees, Yogi made an impact on the game. I’ve read several books written by Yogi and although I never got to see him play, he must have been really good.

Here are some of the funniest things Yogi had to say: “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious,” he used to say describing a switch-hitter. Being a catcher, Yogi did a great job handling Yankee pitchers, but he could never figure out Sandy Koufax, in a manner of speaking, the year Koufax finished 25-5. “I can see how he won twenty-five games. What I don’t understand is how he lost five.” Somehow George Steinbrenner and Yogi got cross-ways and Yogi didn’t attend Yankee games for a while. But what he had to say after ‘Yogi Berra Night’ at Yankee Stadium was a classic. “I’m a lucky guy and I’m happy to have played for the Yankees. And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.” When Major League Baseball had a strike several years ago, Yogi had a comment, “If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?” Yogi had some tough years, but not many. “I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and it keeps up. I change bats. After all, if I know it wasn’t my fault, how can I get mad at myself?” Or, “In baseball, you don’t know anything” One comment came concerning a seemingly unbreakable record. “I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”

Yogi never had a hard time hitting, though, because he tried not to think about it. “How can you hit and think at the same time?” When he moved from catcher and played the outfield later in his career, “It gets late early out there.” He always paid attention, though. “You can observe a lot by watching.” And he always went to a player’s or a friend’s funeral. “You should always go to funerals; otherwise, they won’t come to yours.” Or he had a word of advice for everyone. “You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” Yogi, however, seemed to make himself at home when the Yankees had to travel out of town for a game. “The towels were so thick there, I couldn’t hardly close my suitcase.” One time, he missed the Yankees train and his explanation for manager Casey Stengel was, “I knew I going to take the wrong train, so I left early.” When the Yankees went out to eat after one game, Yogi said, “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.” And he didn’t make excuses for not hitting. “Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hitting.

And some of the favorites we’ll always remember and probably use at one time or other:

Baseball is 90 % mental, the other half is physical.

*When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

*This game’s not over until it’s over.

*I never said most of the things I said.

*This is like deja vu all over again.

*A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.


At March 25, 2009 at 9:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, didn't we see Yogi play for the Yankees in 1964 when we went up to KC for the infamous Roaring River/Jerry Jack trip? - Jim Patterson

At March 25, 2009 at 9:07 PM , Blogger colin said...

Having been a catcher back in my playing days, I always kept up with the big league catcher stars. Campanella, Crandel, and Bench were some of my idols. My favorite image of Yogi is him jumping on Don Larson after Larson pitched the perfect game during the 1956 World Series. He was a great catcher and a very funny guy. I got to see Yogi once. We were living in Virginia and Yogi brought the Yankees down for an exhibition game against the Richmand team. Can you imagine Yogi and Joe (I have no idea how to spell his name) Garagiolla growing up together in the same neighborhood in St. Louis? colin

At March 25, 2009 at 11:51 PM , Blogger John Inman said...

Jim, I think he retired as a Yankee in 1963 and was a player coach for the Mets in 1965. So, I don't think he was playing when we went to KC.

At March 26, 2009 at 12:00 AM , Blogger John Inman said...

Colin, you were close. It was spelled Garagiola and, yes, they were boyhood friends, growing up in the same St. Louis neighborhood. That neighborhood is known as Hall of Fame block, or something like that, now.

At March 26, 2009 at 12:03 AM , Blogger John Inman said...

Oh, and I used to say Bench and I went to different high schools together. He went to school in Binger, OK and was a '65 grad just like me. That's about all I had in common with him, tho.


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