“We have deep depth.” – Yogi Berra
It does not matter to me that Yogi Berra was an 18 time All Star. To me it was his magical turn of a phrase that made him memorable. And it was for this skill that he was a favourite of even those who did not follow baseball.
Sports writer, Nate Scott, says that most of his phrases did not make any sense while “at the same time, every one had some truth to it.” And that is what I think is so magical—his wisdom was in his guilelessness. Now guilelessness has many meanings—but the ones that pertain to Yogi are these: naturalness, innocence, sincerity, candour, and spontaneity. I do not think the man was particularly unworldly, naïve or simple; he was in one word: “himself”.
I try to disguise my lack of sophistication and artlessness. But it seems to me that Yogi did not. And I so admire him for that. Please forgive me but when it was announced last Tuesday that he had gone to that big Ball Park in the sky, I did think to myself, and perhaps even utter it aloud to my husband that I did not even know he was still alive.
According to a list of Scott’s 50 favourite Berra-isms, Yogi once said, “I never said most of the things I said.” Keeping that in mind, I have a few favourites of my own on Scott’s list and I have categorized them thusly:
Those that made sense:
1. You can observe a lot just by watching.
2. It ain’t over till it’s over.
3. We made too many wrong mistakes. (You may think this one cancels itself out, but just think about it—it does make sense.)
4. Little League baseball is great cause it keeps the parents off the streets.
Those that should make sense:
1. When you come to a fork in the road, take it. (This could explain why I get lost so much—this kind of makes sense to me.)
2. It’s like déjà vu all over again. (this is my very favourite—the story of my life.)
3. Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours. (I have a fear that I am going to throw a funeral and no one will come.)
4. You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six. (I just love this one.)
5. The future ain’t what it used to be. (So true.)
And last but not least: “It gets late early out here.” (so apropos to fall)
1. I tell kids, somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose. Just don’t fight about it. Just try to get better.
2. You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there. (I have proven this to be true.)
3. Pair up in threes.
4. Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.
And some I just like:
1. It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility. (tell me about it)
2. We have deep depth.
3. If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.
There is a bit of controversy over who inspired the character of Yogi Bear and at one time Berra was unhappy about the bear who seemed to be his namesake. But I am convinced (despite a dropped lawsuit) that the bear who loved to steal picnic baskets was based on the man who hit a mean ball. My proof? This quote from Yogi Bear, talking to his sidekick BooBoo has me convinced; Yogi (Bear) is quoted as saying: “BooBoo, you’ve tried to stop my brilliant ideas with common sense a thousand times. Has it ever worked?”
Although, I have to argue, that Berra had barrels of common sense wrapped in his uncommon turn of a phrase.