Remembering a Legend

Have you ever asked somebody for directions and gotten this response, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”? You might have, if you had asked baseball icon Yogi Berra.

On Wednesday Sept. 22, Lawrence Peter Berra, more famously known as “Yogi” Berra died of natural causes. Following the news, fellow big names in the MLB took to social media to offer their condolences and memories of Berra.

Hal Steinbrenner, current owner of the New York Yankees released a statement saying, “Yogi Berra’s legacy transcends baseball. Though slight in stature, he was a giant in the most significant of ways through his service to his country, compassion for others and genuine enthusiasm for the game he loved.”

Berra was a professional baseball catcher for 19 years in the MLB, spending most of his time with the New York Yankees. His astounding career included 358 homeruns, 1,430 RBI’s and a .285 batting average. Following his years as a player, Berra coached and became a manager first for the Mets, Yankees, and then Astros. As a player, Berra was recognized as one of the most valuable players in the league, culminating with his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. In his 19 years as a professional player, Berra saw 14 World Series, winning 10 of them. He was also elected as an all-star 18 times.

Baseball fans and non-baseball fans alike recognize the name Yogi Berra if not for his baseball stats then for his famous quotations. When I was in fourth grade, I was a dedicated Red Sox fan. Despite my devotion to Boston, I spent much of my free time in school reading a book my teacher kept in the class library about a famous Yankee. “The Yogi Book” made me laugh, and never got old.

I admired Yogi’s disrespect for basic mathematical equations, as seen in this quote, “Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

Or his friendly advice on how to make sure your funeral wasn’t lame, “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

His philosophical observations, which, by the way, “You can observe a lot just by watching,” (Berra), weren’t to be taken too seriously, but they always had some truth behind the initial humor.

I remember someone describing his quotes which have been deemed, “yogism’s” as just being oxymoron’s. While some of his quotes seem to fit that category, “No one goes there nowadays its too crowded,” or “We made too many wrong mistakes,” they were more than that. They were funny, they were puzzling, and often times they contained buried pieces of advice.

Yogi was also quoted as saying, “I really didn’t say everything I said.” I picture Berra saying this with a smirk, neither confirming nor denying his famous quotes, rather throwing another into the mix and continuing to vex us all.

Many people are familiar with Berra’s incredible baseball record and or his famous yogism’s, but let’s look at some things you might not know about the legend. Lawrence received the nickname “Yogi” in his late childhood after a friend thought he resembled a yogi in a movie about India. It stuck ever since. Yogi’s schooling career ended in eighth grade when he dropped out. In 1998, he opened the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, New Jersey. The center is located on the Montclair State University Campus, and contains artifacts from his career. The museum offers baseball and softball training camps, as well as recognizing leadership in student athletes with the Best Teammate Award Program. Berra took a pause in between signing with the Yankees in 1943, and making his debut in 1946. During those three years, Berra served in the US Navy in World War II.

Yogi will be missed in and out of the baseball world, and his witty quotes will carry on his legacy beyond his passing. As the great Yogi once said-or didn’t say, “It ain’t over till it’s over”.

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