Major League Baseball does not seem to have many characters like Yogi Berra anymore. Could it be because many of the characters in today's game have none? Berra played in the day when ballplayers were true heroes, not a mugshot waiting to happen.
I loaned a couple of paperbacks about Yogi to a friend and upon them being returned to me I couldn't help but skim through some of his famous quotes. For those of you too young to remember, Berra not only talks to the AFLAC duck from a barber's chair in insurance commercials, he once played a little catcher for the New York Yankees and managed them.
From The Yogi Book: "I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said" published by Workman Publishing in 1998 come some great side-splitters coined by perhaps the greatest character to ever play the game of baseball. And I say that with all due respect.
In a advice that could be used today Yogi once told commissioner Bud Selig when attendance was down, "If people don't want to come to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?"
Upon being told by his minor league manager in 1946 to think about what you are doing Yogi promptly struck out on three pitches and told the manager, "You can't think and hit at the same time."
Speaking of managers, a sportswriter once asked Yogi what makes a good manager. His reply, "Good players!"
Fellow big leaguers Joe Garagiola and Stan Musial once invited Yogi to Ruggeri's Restaurant in their hometown of St. Louis. Yogi declined by saying, "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
While gardening with his wife and son Yogi once complained about getting scratches and mud all over his hands. His wife threw him a pair of gloves and he said, "The only reason I need these gloves is 'cause of my hands."
Yogi's son Tim played high school football and for the University of Massachusetts. Upon arriving home early Yogi found Tim and his mother Carmen gone. When they got home she told Yogi she took Tim to see Doctor Zhivago. Yogi asked, "What the hell's wrong with him now?" Doctor Zhivago was of course, a 1965 movie. At a movie that he attended, Yogi told his wife, "Steve McQueen looks good in this movie. He must have made it before he died."
Berra was the catcher for Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. For over half a century Yogi has proclaimed, "It's never happened in World Series history, and it hasn't happened since."
"We made too many wrong mistakes," explained Yogi after the Yankees lost the 1960 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Again talking to Garagiola, giving him directions to his house, Yogi said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." With traveling again on his mind the whole family was going to Cooperstown, N.Y., and Yogi got lost. Carmen was giving him a hard time and he gave it back to her, "We're lost, but we're making good time!"
During an interview, TV announcer Bryant Gumbel told Yogi he wanted to do some word association. Gumbel's first offering was, "Mickey Mantle." Yogi's reply? "What about him?"
Speaking of Mantle, he and Yogi kept running into each other at funerals during one offseason. He told the Mick how glad he was to see him at these funerals because, "If you don't go to other people's funerals, they won't come to yours."
"It's de'ja' vu all over again!" and "90 percent of the game is half mental." Are probably Yogi's two most famous misspeaks. My favorite? When asked what his favorite part of school was when he was young, he replied, "When it's closed."
I could not have said it better.