Yogi Berra: The Man Who Took the Fork in The Road

Some baseball players are remembered by the things they do on the field. Some by what they do off the field. Some for their prime, some for their fall.

But in the history of sports, American or worldwide, baseball or otherwise, there is only one baseball player who has been remembered by his intellect.

That man played for the New York Yankees. His name is Yogi Berra.

The Man Who Took the Fork in the Road

Yogi Berra

In 1942, a young man joined the Yankees. His name was Lawrence Peter Yogi Berra. He came from Elizabeth Street and played in the minor leagues.

He was so young that the Yankees didn't even know who he was. But they learned that the St. Louis Cardinals wanted him and so they decided bug them by hiring the boy. He cost them 500 dollars. Come World War II, the teenaged Berra had to join to army. He fought against the Nazis in the Battle of Normandy, against the fascists in Italy, and against pretty much anyone he had to in Omaha and the North of Africa.

In 1945 he returned to New York. The Yankees still didn't know who he was. But they learned the Giants had made an offer for the boy, so they decided to keep him, again, just to bug them. In 1946, he was part of the team. In 1951, 1954 and 1955, he was considered player of year.

Yogi Berra wound up coaching the Yankees. But what makes him so memorable isn't his talent as a player or the deep knowledge of baseball he showed as a coach. It was his verbal ability.

For years, he delighted reporters and fans alike with a capacity for verbal acrobatics that was rivaled only by perhaps Groucho Marx. These deceptively simple tautologies seemed to emanate directly from him, without even trying. Nobody has, as of yet, come up with a better, more succinct, way to phrase certain situations and feelings in baseball and in life.

For instance, his wife once asked him, "You were born in Missouri, grew up and played in New York and now we live in New Jersey. Where would you do like to be buried?". To which Yogi replied, "I don't know, Carmen, why don't you surprise me?" Beautiful.

Through aphorisms like that, Yogi Berra became famous, an integral part of New York and the reason why no guide would ever be complete without a collection of his classic lines. It is impossible to describe him without citing some of his fantastic quotations.

  • "The future ain't what it used to be."
  • "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."
  • "The game isn't over until it's over."
  • "It's like deja vu all over again."
  • "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
  • "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
  • "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else."
  • "You can observe a lot by just watching."
  • "I never said most of the things I said."
  • When asked into how many pieces he wanted his pizza cut, he said: "Four. I don't think I can eat eight."
  • "I made a wrong mistake."

If you ever wonder what is it about the Yankees, the best possible answer is not in statistics of esoteric explanations. It's the people.