2. Goodbye, Yogi Berra

Four days ago, Tuesday, I was in NJ. It was the end of a very hectic East coast visit. I returned the rental car around 9 AM. I had put around 1,500 miles (about 2,500 kms) on it doing trips to Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. The Hyundai Elantra was comfortable and spacious but it handled turns rather uncertainly. Could have been due to the tires but it could also be because I am used to a firmer suspension on my Saab 9-3. Anyhow, the rest of the day was spent in transit from Newark NJ to San Jose CA on Southwest Airlines. The layover was in Austin TX, a city famous for its music (Austin City Limits).

Upon arrival late evening, I got to know that Yogi Berra had passed away that day in Caldwell NJ. Although I have no interest in baseball, I had always loved “Yogi Berra-isms”. Indeed, I consider knowing them as part of a complete American education. In the final exams I set for econ courses I have taught, I always included one bonus question for extra points: “What is your favorite Yogi Berra-ism?” I kid you not.

You might wonder how he got the name “Yogi” when his actual name was “Lawrence Peter Berra.” The NYTimes obituary reports:

As a boy, Berra was known as Larry, or Lawdie, as his mother pronounced it. One day in his early teenage years, he and some friends had gone to the movies and were watching a travelogue about India when a Hindu yogi appeared on the screen sitting cross-legged. His posture struck one of the friends as precisely the way Berra sat on the ground as he waited his turn at bat. From that day on, he was Yogi Berra.

One of the most famous Yogi Berraisms is “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” It’s so well known that people tend to add the “all over again” every time they want to say déjà vu. Here are a few Yogi Berraisms.

“Thanks, you don’t look so hot yourself.” — After being told he looked cool.

“I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”

“Yeah, but we’re making great time!” — In reply to “Hey Yogi, I think we’re lost.”

“If the fans don’t come out to the ball park, you can’t stop them.”

“Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel.”

“It’s never happened in the World Series competition, and it still hasn’t.”

“How long have you known me, Jack? And you still don’t know how to spell my name.” — Upon receiving a check from Jack Buck made out to “bearer.”

“Baseball is 90% mental — the other half is physical.”

“A nickel isn’t worth a dime today.”

“If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”

And for those who like to steal hotel towels (not me, I swear), the truth of this one will hit home:

“The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”

Yogi, thank you and goodbye. I’m glad you were around.

{Part 1 of this series: “Turbulence in Houston.”}

Author: Atanu Dey


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