It's finally over for Lawrence Peter 'Yogi' Berra, who died today at age 90.
Berra was best known for his malapropisms, many of which made sense when you thought about them - Berra just had a 'special' way with words. People who knew of his quotes were often unaware of his great baseball career, in which he played 18 years for the New York Yankees, appeared in 14 World Series, won 10 World Series and 3 Most Valuable Player awards. He's been in more World Series games than any other player. There is no doubt that he was one of the greatest catchers in baseball history.
But he was also a 'regular guy'. As a teenager he found himself on a Navy gunboat during D-Day and received a Purple Heart. After the war he joined the Yankees at age 21 and became one of its best and most beloved players. He deftly navigated the path among personalities as diverse as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Whitey Ford, all of whom are his compatriots in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Despite all the adulation, he never forgot his roots and remained a 'regular guy'. He was humble and kind. Like Stan Musial, he countered Leo Durocher's claim, 'Nice guys finish last.' I recall one game I attended at Yankee Stadium in 1961. I went down close to the field to see if I could get a better view of one of my heroes (Mickey Mantle, actually). Yogi walked by on his way to the batting cage, looked at me (although I was in the midst of perhaps 25 other boys), waved, and said 'Hi, kid.' Wow!
Here are some of his best quotes, not all of which may have actually been said by him.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
“Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.”
“The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
"Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."
“It gets late early out here.”
“I don’t know (if they were male or female) fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.”
“Take it with a grin of salt.”
“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”
"In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”
“We made too many wrong mistakes.”
“So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.”
“If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.”
“Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
"He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”
“I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”
"It ain't over till it's over."
“You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.”
“It’s déjà vu all over again.”
We love you, Yogi. You've left two great legacies!
He was Everyman, and he will be missed by many, whether they loved baseball or not.
My favorite quote? It would have to be this one:
"I can't believe how many memories I've forgotten." -- Yogi Berra, upon
returning to his St. Louis childhood home.