“When you come to a fork in the road, take it”, “You can observe a lot by watching”, and of course, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over”. Any self respecting fan of the game of baseball has heard these quotes and many others by Hall of Famer Yogi Berra. When it comes to philosophers you can put Yogi right up there with Aristotle and Voltaire. Well okay, maybe if Aristotle and Voltaire were drunk, but Yogi would be up there!
For starters, “The Yogi Book” is not a recent release; it was first published in 1997 by Workman Publishing out of New York. It is a small book, almost along the lines of a pamphlet, but in true Yogi fashion, this little book is a long read! It starts off with a great forward written by Berra’s childhood friend, Joe Garagiola. Next is the introduction which is composed by Larry, Tim, and Dale Berra, Yogi’s sons.
From there you are thrown right into the fire, no first chapter or opening lines; in fact, there are no chapters at all. What you get is a highlighted Yogi quote with a picture and a few lines of him trying to explain why he said that particular gem or the history surrounding it. The neat thing is that in his explanations or in the captions for the pictures, you might just find an unexpected Yogism.
For instance; on page 13 the quote he talks about is “You can’t think and hit at the same time”. He explains how that one came about; the caption for the corresponding photo is classic though! It is a picture of him hitting some infield balls while he was a coach and the caption reads, “I could always see bad balls good”. Most everyone else would refer to that as being a “great bad ball hitter”, like Vlad Guerrero of the LA Angels. But Yogi throws it out there as he always does, a phrase with a little twist to it.
Additionally, there are some photos that are just classic, he really brought out some great ones. There is one with him during a New York Mets spring training that has him in uniform talking to Roger Maris, Casey Stengel, Eddie Lopat, and Hank Bauer. I don’t know how long that conversation went on but can you imagine how long it could have gone on?
Another photo is of Yogi jumping into Don Larsen’s arms after the 1956 perfect game in the World Series. The neat thing about this one is that it is at a different angle than we have always seen. This looks like it was snapped from the third base line rather than the classic film footage we have all seen taken from the press box above home plate.
All in all, there are probably over 50 quotes, but I would have to say my favorite was the one he said to Mary Lindsay, the wife of the mayor of New York at the time. He was being given the key to the city and Yogi says it was a miserably hot and humid day. During the Mayor’s speech, Mary commented on how cool Yogi looked to which he responded, “you don’t look so hot yourself”. He then writes, “I guess I was a little nervous about the speech I had to make”. Classic!
In true Berra fashion, I don’t think he meant for this book to be hilarious, it just happened to come out that way. If you get the chance, go to your neighborhood library and check this book out, you will be glad you did. It is a quick read; took me all of about two hours to knock out, including time for the laughter! But the neat thing is that all the while Yogi is telling you about each quote, he is also taking you on a little personal trip down memory and historical lane. Some pictures you might not have seen, and some facts and insights you may not have heard about.
On the renowned AHP scale of book ratings, I will give “I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said – The Yogi Book” three and three quarter balls. It is not a literary tome that you will brag about to your buddies to try and sound smart; no, it is so much more than that. It is a hilarious and historical look at some of the best quotes to come from a true American treasure.