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Friday, September 25, 2015

Yogi Berra – The Yankee Exception by Will Wright

Yogi Berra – The Yankee Exception
by Will Wright
, "I never play a game without my man." Casey Stengel

I'm a life-long Red Sox fan. It's sacrilege for a Fenway acolyte to admit liking a Yankee. But for the last fifty years (since his retirement,) there's been one Yankee that Red Sox nation has been allowed to like - Yogi Berra.
It wasn't just admiration for the way he played the game, and some people forget what a great player he was. It wasn't just because he was always kind and approachable. There have been other Yankees with these credentials that remain damned to lowest circles of the Red Sox fan inferno.

What endeared Yogi Berra to even those he beat on the diamond from the mid forties to the early sixties, was that he was one of the funniest men alive (until just recently, when the alive part stopped.)
The thing is, nobody seems to know if his humor was on purpose, or just a series of fortunate mistakes. A number of Yogi-isms are so popular that they’ve become cliché’s

It ain't over til it's over.
It's deja vu all over again.
It gets late early out here.
When you come to the fork in the road, take it.
You can observe a lot by watching.

Is it a great accomplishment to create cliché’s? In Berra's case, I think it was, because not only were his sayings funny, they forced us to look at common words in a new way. There was wisdom in his humor.

Never answer an anonymous letter.
The future ain't what it used to be.
If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.
Take it with a grin of salt.
Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.
It ain't the heat, it's the humility.

Berra affected the culture by maintaining his naive, wise, humor all his life, never taking a bow for lines other humorists would die for.

Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel?
The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.
I don't know (what gender the streakers were.) They had bags over their heads.
He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious.
You better cut the pie into four slices. I'm not hungry enough to eat six.
Even Napoleon had his Watergate.

So here's to Yogi! (Yogi-isms in bold) If you can't imitate him, don't copy him. Don't ask me anything I don't know. I'm not going to answer. Let's pair up in threes, and take a two hour nap from 1 to 4. Remember, we have deep depth, and you wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you, but we were overwhelming underdogs. Because in theory there's no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. If people don't want to come to the ball park, nobody's going to stop them because nobody goes there anymore - it's too crowded. Possibly because it was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much, and half the lies they tell about me aren't true. Up till now, it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future, because he must have made that before he died.

I'm surprised Weird Al, or some other genius hasn't made a song of them yet. But maybe parody would be just gilding the lily.
I can imagine the eulogy Yogi might make for himself. It might begin with, I never said most of the things I said, but I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.

Even those of us who revere Yaz and can't say Bucky Dent without an obscene adjective proceeding, will miss Yogi Berra!

His career highlights.