Lessons from a Yogi

by | May 18, 2020

The yogi who said these profound truths (listed below) was not from India. Rather, he was from Yankee Stadium.

            I am talking about Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame catcher, hitter, manager, and “philosopher” for the New York Yankees. I am sad about the delay in the baseball season, and to make up for this loss I am reading a new biography of Yogi (written by Jon Pessah.)

            There is something in Pessah’s book which can help even those who say unkind things about baseball (Father, forgive them for they know not what they are saying.) Berra was still a teenager, trying out for the major leagues, when he had a chance to play ball in front of the great Branch Rickey.

            Rickey had been a good major league player, and he was then a senior executive for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In fact, it was Rickey who signed Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers and integrated major league baseball. Berra got several hits and had a great game as catcher behind the plate during the nine innings that Rickey saw. But the Brooklyn Dodger’s senior executive looked at Yogi and said, “Kid, you will never make it in the major leagues.”

            Many of us in a similar situation would have folded and gone home for good after being told that by the “great master.” Also,Yogi’s father wanted him to give up baseball and “get a real job.”

            But Yogi listened to that “still, small voice” and kept on following his inner truth. A few years after this experience, the Yankees signed Berra. Rickey hadn’t heard the news yet, and he tried to sign up Yogi for the Dodgers. Yogi smiled and said, “I am sorry Mr. Rickey, but I already have a contract with the Yankees.”

So now here are some of my favorite quotes from Yogi:

  • “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
  • “You can observe a lot by just watching.”
  • “It’s like deja vu all over again.”
  • “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”
  • “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”
  • “Never answer an anonymous letter.”
  • “How can you think and hit at the same time?”
  • “It ain’t over until it is over.”
  • “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”
  • “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
  • “Slump? It ain’t no slump…I just ain’t hitting.”
  • “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”

            I look beyond today’s headlines, and I know that someday umpires again will be saying, “Play ball!”