Rest in Peace, Yogi Berra. From the day I launched this blog, I’ve kept a Yogi Berra quote permanently up on the right sidebar: “You can observe a lot by watching.” I analyzed this “yogism” in my previous post: “A Yogi Berra Translation.” But now that Yogi has passed from this world, I want to write a few words to honor him on this blog. And post this video:
And this one:
Even if Yogi was not famous — and even if he was not a ball player — his goodness and humor would have still made an enormous difference in the lives of those whose paths he crossed. But luckily for the rest of us, he was a rare sort of celebrity. Which means that we are all enriched by the memories he built for us not only in the ballpark, but through the strength of his unassuming and cheerful personality. And his loyalty to family and country: He was married to his wife Carmen for 65 years; and he fought on D-Day at Normandy in WWII.
But it’s likely Yogi Berra will be remembered by most folks for those “yogisms,” his unique and pithy expressions that make us laugh and think a bit harder about life and language. No doubt you’ve heard several, including: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” That rings so true these days, doesn’t it? But perhaps that’s because: “It’s deja vu all over again.” Here’s another beaut: “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
A few folks dismiss yogisms, and think Berra should be remembered primarily for his incredible record as catcher for the New York Yankees. Well, if yogisms upstage his statistics, that’s not such a bad thing. Because Yogi was so much bigger than baseball. Sure, his amazing stats will live on in the record books. In fact I’ll bet his yogisms will actually help keep them alive in more conversations. But it is Yogi’s personality and his words that will have far greater staying power in real life all across America. And on another level, that is the case for each and every one of us. We may accomplish great things, but how we treat others and give of ourselves is what makes the biggest impact in the lives of others.
You can read my tribute published last Friday at The Federalist: “Yogisms: Essential to Yogi Berra’s Legacy.” Here’s an excerpt:
Ultimately, good legacies are always about how people have touched others’ lives. Their accomplishments and skills are part of that picture, to be sure, but how someone connects with others—as in the case of Berra—is an even bigger piece of that picture.
In the same vein, I think for most our connection with Berra as a legend has to do more with how we relate to him as a human being through the power of his personality than through the power of his swing. That makes his legacy all the bigger and brighter.