“In baseball, you don’t know nothing.” Yogi Berra
Hey gang. You wouldn’t think I’d let something like the passing of baseball great Yogi Berra happen without a little check in from the lighthouse HQ, would you?
And on the first day of autumn, no less. Or is it fall? Nobody knows. The season of mystery, or “of mists and mellow fruitfulness”, if you believe that Keats fellow. No one really knows when Autumn begins, either. Some people think that it is today, the autumnal equinox. Autumnal. What a great word to say out loud. Why not say it with me? Autumnal. Followed by equinox, another nice one to say out loud. Band name! (Called it.) AND YET SOME CULTURES consider this the “Mid-autumn” point. Those cultures would be wrong.
Others see Labour day as the psychological end of summer/beginning of Autumn, while others still think that as soon as we turn the calendar to September 1st IT’S ALL OVER. I’m not even going to mention those sons of bitches “down below” who seem to think Autumn starts in March. I mean, really. What’s next? Telling me that January is beach weather for them?
Autumn also signifies the end of the baseball season, the beginning of the “post season”. So it’s rather appropriate that baseball legend Yogi Berra would pass away on the last day of summer, when the days shorten and the shadows lengthen. September 22. It also happened to be the exactly anniversary of Berra’s first major league appearance, back in 1946. He was 90 years old.
What can I say about Yogi Berra that hasn’t been said better elsewhere? Like for example in today’s NYT obituary? Not much. I mean, the guy had a cartoon bear named after him, for goodness sakes! It wasn’t until I was an adult that I made the connection between Yogi Bear and Yogi Berra. He was also a WWII veteran, serving in the navy and participating in D-Day!
We could talk a little bit about his on field accomplishments: his 10 World Series championships, including catching Don Larsen’s perfect world series game in 1956. Being an All Star for 15 years? Leading the Yankees to two more World Series championships in the late 1970’s? We could go on and on.
I forgot he managed the Yankees in the midst of the tumultuous Billy Martin years in the 1980’s, and that even though Steinbrenner made a promise to Berra that wouldn’t fire him that season, guess what? He did. And what was worse was that Steinbrenner didn’t even fire Berra personally, he sent a stooge to do the job for him. This was so hurtful to Berra that he swore to never set foot in Yankee stadium again. He kept his word for 14 years until Steinbrenner went to Berra’s home and apologized in person.
This is all baseball stuff, and that alone would be enough to make Yogi great, but the wider culture may remember him more for his “Yogi”isms. Despite the fact that he only made it to grade 8, Yogi Berra became known for his little sayings and bits of wisdom dispensed over the years. Some of which pertain to baseball and some of which apply to everyday life. Here’s the kicker though: many of these sayings MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN SAID BY HIM. Well, as you well know, one of the tenets of “Mountains Beyond Mountains” is to never let the truth get in the way of a good story, so we are ALL OVER these sayings, whether the great man actually said them or not. In fact, Berra has been quoted as saying, “I never said most of the things I’ve said.” I’m not even sure he said THAT. We’re into lexiconical inception here, people!
Let’s just finish off which some of these gems, as we remember a man who impacted pop culture in such a pervasive and yet unintended way. Like the man said himself, “A lot of guys go, ‘Hey Yog, say a Yosi-ism.’ I tell them, ‘I don’t know any.’ They want me to make one up. I don’t make ’em up. I don’t even know when I say it. They’re the truth. And it is the truth. I don’t know”.
- When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
- You can observe a lot by just watching.
- It’s like deja vu all over again.
- No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.
- Baseball is nine percent mental and the other half is physical.
- The future ain’t what it used to be.
- All pitchers are liars or crybabies.
- A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.
- You better cut the pizza into four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.
- You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.