It ain’t over till it’s over. On September 22, one of the greatest players in baseball history and a gem of a human being passed away. Yogi Berra was 90 years old.
If you haven’t heard of Yogi Berra, odds are you’ve heard something he’s said. The 5’ 7’’, stout, smiling catcher is indisputably the most “quotable” man in the history of sports. Why? His “Yogi-isms” transcend sports. A sampling of my favorites include the following: “It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much,” “It gets late early out here,” and the incredible, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
I doubt Berra himself could have predicted all the fame and success in his future as a kid in St. Louis. Before he played in the big leagues, Yogi (born Lawrence Peter Berra) served in World War II for the United States Navy, and he was right in the middle of the action, bravely firing machine guns and missiles at the Germans amidst a storm of nearby bullets.
Yet it wasn’t until he was called up to the New York Yankees on September 22, 1946 (69 years to the day that he died) that Berra became a recognizable hero to the American public. As a ballplayer, Yogi’s achievements during his 19-year major league career are unfathomable—18 All-Star games; three American League MVP awards; ten World Series championships. While he may have been easy to laugh at when he said things such as, “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious,” Berra commanded respect. He wasn’t just surrounded by greatness with legendary teammates like Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle; Yogi himself was great.
Despite my distaste for the “Evil Empire” of the Yankees, I cannot conceive of anyone having something negative to say about Yogi Berra. His legacy lies in the wisdom and laughter he’s gifted to future generations. In Yogi’s words, it’ll be “like déjà vu all over again.”