Baseball lost one of its greatest ambassadors last night when Yogi Berra passed away. As a result, baseball fans old enough to remember Yogi lost a man with a wayward way with words. Baseball fans knew Yogi for the things he said. One of his famous sayings was that “I never said most of the things I said.”

Yogi’s most famous quote, though, was “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I had the good fortune of hearing Joe Garagiola, the former play-by-play announcer for NBC’s Game of the Week, explain why the quote made sense to him. Part of the backstory is that Garagiola and Berra grew up in the same neighborhood in St. Louis, MO. The neighborhood was at the top of the hill overlooking downtown St. Louis. The road, Garagiola explained didn’t run north to south or east to west. When you got to the top of the hill, the only road up there ran a circular route.

Yogi was more than just the best quipster in sports history. He was an outstanding player with the hated New York Yankees. Yogi “won three American League MVP awards and 10 World Series titles.” The Yankees of those years were loaded and then some. When Joe DiMaggio retired, they replaced him with a kid named Mickey Mantle. It isn’t surprising that baseball writers half-kiddingly said that the Yankees were the best team in baseball and that their Triple-A team was the next-best team in the game.

At another point in the early 1960s, the Yankees had Yogi as their starting catcher, Elston Howard their starter-in-waiting and Johnny Blanchard as their third string catcher and part-time outfielder. Howard later went on to win the AL MVP Award.

Leave a Reply