A few days ago, the baseball world (as well as the world in general) lost one of her icons. I had the privilege of watching Lawrence “Yogi” Berra play ball when I was a young lad. He was, by all accounts, one of the true heroes of the game.
He was a Hall of Famer—one of the greatest catchers ever. More than that, he was a man of faith, a military veteran, a gentleman, and an all around good guy. From what I hear, he always had a smile and a good word for everyone.
He played for the hated Yankees (at least hated by me). Despite that, I always rooted for him. It was hard not to do so.
The Yankees won championship after championship during Yogi’s time with them. He won the Most Valuable Player Award three times. Only four other American League players ever did that.
After having beaten the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series a few times, the Dodgers finally outmatched the Yanks in 1955. After the final game, Yogi chided his teammates to go to the Dodger locker room with him to congratulate them. That’s the kind of guy he was.
But of all the accolades and accomplishments of his heralded life, he might be remembered most for his innocently comedic, off the cuff remarks. Everyone seems to know and remember at least one of his “Yogi-isms.”
He said things like, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.” “The future ain’t what it used to be.” And of course, the ever famous, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” Yogi seemed to deny many of these Yogi-isms. He once proclaimed, “I never said most of the things I said.” No comment…
I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I always go back to the time he said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Well, Yogi finally came to that fork in the road, and he apparently took it. Each one of us reaches that fork at some point. After all, “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”
I guess the trick in life is to be ready for that fork. Too many of us meander around, never really finding our way. We head in various directions and hope things will turn out okay. Some of us never think about that fork. We think we’re invincible or immortal. They call that denial.
“It gets late early out here.”
There are those of us who find it relaxing to drift with the tide—even exciting. But wandering in the wilderness can get you lost. As Yogi once said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”
Time is running out for all of us. “It gets late early out here.”