Yogi Berra is a baseball legend for what he achieved as a player, coach and manager – he has 13 World Series rings for crying out loud – and placed himself in the class of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the Dalai Lama, well at least for the amount of thoughts he’s expressed that have been shared by the masses.
Yogi’s words are well chronicled, as is the amazing and unfettered good luck he’s brought to every franchise he’s touched. His former manager Casey Stengel once said of Yogi, “He’d fall in a sewer and come up with a gold watch.”
That’s hard to argue considering Berra’s Hall of Fame career includes 14 World Series appearances as a player and 10 World Championships. He then reached the World Series seven more times as a coach or manager and won three more championships.
He won three MVP Awards during his remarkable 19-year playing career and finished second (twice), third and fourth in the voting. He was named to an astonishing 18 All-Star Games and concluded his playing career with nine at bats with the Mets in 1965.
Yogi’s good fortune continued right to the end when, at the age of 90 in September of 2015, the Yankee great died in his sleep of natural causes. Clearly God was in his dugout from the first inning of his life to his ninth inning, taking good care of one of his leading souls.
With that we delve into the wonderful world of the great Yogi Berra where every word or phrase has a purpose and obvious sliver of truth, regardless of our initial confusion.
The following gem was published recently in USA Today, but all of the quotes have been accumulated by hundreds of sources for close to 70 years.
Berra-isms: (colloquial expressions that lack logic) are now countless, and many of them are just attributed to Berra, even if he never actually said them. As he so perfectly put it: “I never said most of the things I said.”
Here are 50 of our favorites.
1. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
2. You can observe a lot by just watching.
3. It ain’t over till it’s over.
4. It’s like déjà vu all over again.
5. No one goes to that restaurant anymore, it’s too crowded.
6. Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.
7. A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.
8. Always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t come to yours.
9. We made too many wrong mistakes.
10. Congratulations. I knew the record would stand until it was broken.
11. You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.
12. You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you.
13. I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four.
14. Never answer an anonymous letter.
15. Slump? I ain’t in no slump… I just ain’t hitting.
16. You can’t think and hit at the same time?
17. The future ain’t what it used to be.
18. I tell the kids, somebody’s gotta’ win, somebody’s got to lose. Just don’t fight about it. Just try to get better.
19. It gets late early out here.
20. If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.
21. We have deep depth.
22. Pair up in threes.
23. Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.
24. You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.
25. All pitchers are liars or crybabies.
26. Even Napoleon had his Watergate.
27. Bill Dickey is learning me his experience.
28. He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.
29. It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.
30. I can see how he (Sandy Koufax) won twenty-five games. What I don’t understand is how he lost five.
31. I don’t know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.
32. I’m a lucky guy and I’m happy to be with the Yankees. And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.
33. I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.
34. In baseball, you don’t know nothing.
35. I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?
36. I never said most of the things I said.
37. It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.
38. If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.
39. I wish everybody had the drive he (Joe DiMaggio) had. He never did anything wrong on the field. I’d never seen him dive for a ball, everything was a chest-high catch, and he never walked off the field.
40. So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.
41. Take it with a grin of salt.
42. (On the 1973 Mets) We were overwhelming underdogs.
43. The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.
44. Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.
45. Mickey Mantle was a very good golfer, but we weren’t allowed to play golf during the season, only at spring training.
46. You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.
47. I’m lucky. Usually you’re dead to get your own museum, but I’m still alive to see mine.
48. If I didn’t make it in baseball, I won’t have made it workin.’ I didn’t like to work.
49. If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.
50. A lot of guys go, ‘Hey, Yog, say a Yogi-ism.’ I tell ’em, ‘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.
Thank you to Marty Clark, Diamond Nation’s Director of Tournaments and Leagues, for the great story idea.