NY Yankee icon originated the saying “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” and many more
Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra (May 12, 1925 – September 22, 2015) made his debut for the New York Yankees on September 22, 1946 and was their catcher and a clubhouse leader until 1963. He then had a brief stint with the Mets in 1965 before retiring as one of the most beloved players in Yankee history. From 1964 to 1985 he was a coach or manager for the Yankees and the Mets. He was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1972.
Yogi Berra is a cultural icon whose fame transcended the baseball diamond. “Yogi-isms” such as “it ain’t over till it’s over” and “a nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore” have found their way into the vernacular. People think Yogi is funny, but as his old manager Casey Stengel once put it “They say he’s funny. Well, he has a lovely wife and family, a beautiful home, money in the bank, and he plays golf with millionaires. What’s funny about that?”
Lawrence Peter Berra got the nickname Yogi during his teenage years, when he was playing American Legion Baseball. One afternoon, after attending a movie that had a short piece on India, a friend Jack Maguire noticed a resemblance between him and the “yogi”, or person who practiced yoga, on the screen. Maguire said “I’m going to call you Yogi” and from that moment on, the name stuck.
One thing is clear, as colorful as Yogi’s stories were and as popular as his star shined off of the field, he was also quite the character behind home plate. He had a reputation as a talker, attempting to take opposing batters off their game. In the 1958 World Series, Yogi kept telling Hank Aaron to “hit with the label up on the bat”. Finally, Aaron turned and said “Yogi, I came up here to hit, not to read”.
In addition to his colorful persona, what made Yogi so great was that he was one of the most feared hitters the game had ever seen. Teammate Hector Lopez said “Yogi had the fastest bat I ever saw. He could hit a ball late, that was already past him, and take it out of the park. The pitchers were afraid of him because he’d hit anything, so they didn’t know what to throw. Yogi had them psyched out and he wasn’t even trying to psych them out”. What was even more amazing was that when he donned the “tools of ignorance”, he had a reputation as being one of the best in the business behind the plate as well, as his manager Casey Stengel praised “Why has our pitching been so great? Our catcher that’s why. He looks cumbersome but he’s quick as a cat”.
Yogi hung up his spikes for good after the 1965 season, a fifteen-time All-Star, a three-time American League MVP Award winner and a ten-time World Series champion.
Here are more of his “Yogi-isms”:
“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
“Ninety percent of this game is half mental.”
Watch for additional articles this month with more info and “Yogi-isms”