I think it would be fairly easy just to write a piece about Yogi Berra featuring a lot of his great one-liners. But we’re talking about one of the top 3-5 catchers in the history of Major League Baseball. And yes he was a great comedian, but how many catchers do you know of that were great behind the plate who also have a career 285 bating average with 358 home runs and 1430 RBI. At least statistically we’re talking about a better hitting catcher than Johnny Bench who is still the best all around catcher of all-time. Yogi is at least the best all around catcher pre-Johnny Bench who came up with the Cincinnati Reds in 1967.
As far as his humor I love people who put things in a very direct way telling it exactly how it is and using humor with it. Especially when they’re not making fun of someone, or some group of people. Who can say ironic things and stuff that they know can’t be true, but do it so well and intentionally that you have to laugh at it. Like the Yogi line about baseball being 90% half mental. Well anyone with a basic understanding of mathematics knows that can’t be true. But he was so clever about how he said that, that you had to laugh at that. Or saying obvious things, but doing it with perfect timing that again you have to laugh. “When you come to a fork in road, take it.”
“You can observe a lot just by watching.” Which of course sounds like Captain Obvious under attack and everyone must duck, or get hit in the head with useless information that they’ve known since they were born. But if you’re not someone who tends to be very good about knowing your surroundings and tend to miss things that are right in front of you, that little piece of obvious information can help you. And tell you to pay attention so you don’t miss what is going on right in front of you.
“It aint over till it’s over.” Good message for players who are down a lot in a game, but still have time to turn it around. And instead of thinking, “damn we suck! We’re not only going to get blown out, but we might not bother to score!” You would have Yogi saying something like, “relax, I know its 6-0, but its only the 3rd inning. Besides I got a guy in there who can actually pitch now. So just relax and play the game right and we’ll get back in it.” Telling his players there’s a reason why a World Series is seven games and games themselves are nine innings, because you don’t win those things early on.
Yogi Berra, again one of the top 3-5 catchers of all-time, but similar to Billy Martin and Phil Rizzuto if he wasn’t playing and managing baseball, he could have been a great comedian and talk show host as well. Because of his ability to put things exactly as they are with a little touch of great wit. Which is what great one-liners are. The ability to use common sense to make fun of life and even people in life. The ability to state the obvious without someone saying,”no shit Einstein! You got any other brand new discoveries you would like to share with us?” And because of that and I think especially the humor he’s going to be missed for a long time.