I love baseball. Most Americans do. It perfectly captures human existence on a canvas of green, in Anytown, USA. It is sometimes filled with huge, never before seen plays that are cause for celebration. Often it is filled with seemingly unimportant minutiae. Ultimately it’s about people, because, in the end, people make the game; people with stories and histories; joys and sorrows, the old and the young; the black and the white and all the colors in between. Driving Mr. Yogi is about life after baseball and most important; about friendship.
Yogi Berra is well known as a baseball legend, often considered one of the greatest catchers in baseball history. Most of his 19-year career was spent in the outfield or behind the plate of the New York Yankees. He is, just as famously known for his Yogi-isms, with entire websites, books, and calendars devoted to them:
“I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four.”
“It’s deja vu all over again.”
“When you come to a fork in the road….Take it.”
“I didn’t really say everything I said.”
And most famously,
“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
There is a bond between a catcher and a pitcher. It is often well documented, photographed and preserved for posterity. This book extends that bond to ‘after the game’, when a friendship of another sort was forged, between Berra and Guidry. Yogi reminds us of our octogenarian grandfather or uncle or Pops. He’s a little stubborn (as evidenced by the infamous Steinbrenner firing and 12-year feud that followed). A tad cranky (There’s a famous photo of Jackie Robinson that hangs in Obama’s White House. Robinson is sliding into home in the 1955 World Series. The Umpire called him safe. Berra put a simple inscription on the photo to President Obama; “He was out”).
Regimented and routine (If the doctor tells him to take a pill at 9 a.m., the bottle is open at five of nine,) and 100% lovable.
As someone who bleeds Orange & Black, there are players on every team—(even the Yankees)—that are heroes. In a time of overpaid jocks, PED’s controversy, doping, bribery, and various scandals, this book reminds us that there are things in the game that are good and right, things that go beyond the field and capture our human experience in a way worthy of celebration.