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TOYS AND GAMES: Farewell Yogi

My heart goes out to Lindsay Berra, a friend and a colleague at MLB.com, who lost her beloved grandfather, Yogi Berra, on Wednesday. She adored the man.

In the shadows of Berra’s larger-than-life legacy, sits his Hall of Fame playing career. Few have ever played the game better. Berra belongs among the top five Yankees of all time and I’d only place Johnny Bench ahead of him as the top catcher in baseball history, though there are plenty of arguments the other way.

Still, Berra’s infectious personality is what most remember.

Because of my job, I’ve been fortunate enough to be a fly on the wall while conversations at baseball fields took place between Don Zimmer, whom I knew well, and Berra. They told a lot of baseball stories, talked about family and friends, and laughter always punctuated the scene.

Of course, Berra was unsurpassed where his morsels of wisdom were concerned. Here are some of my favorites:

“You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”

“You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you.”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

“So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.”

Finally, I once witnessed a Yogism in real time following a Hall of Fame Veterans Committee meeting in which they elected Phil Rizzuto to the Hall of Fame. Prior to the meeting, there were whispers that “The Scooter” was a slam dunk to get elected based on the fact several of his friends, including Berra, were on the committee. Since I was covering the event that took place at a conference room at the Tampa International Airport, I had to ask Berra afterward whether his friendship with Rizzuto influenced his vote. Berra’s response. “No, no, Phil’s a great guy.”

RIP Yogi.

bchastain19@gmail.com

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©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography