Yogi Berra gives Myth Trivia fans an ESL lesson to remember
CHARLOTTE, NC – In any other year, baseball would be in high gear by now. The boys of summer would just be hitting their stride. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic however, baseball fans find themselves treated these days with endless replays of classic games. Meanwhile, the lumber sits idly in the bat rack like so much termite bait. Which, for some reason, brings memories of classic baseball star and character Yogi Berra to mind.
Nobody goes here anymore. It’s too crowded
Back in 2015, the sports world lost one of its most beloved “characters” when former New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra died at the age of 90. Berra was one of those people you thought would live forever. We remember him as a first-class catcher and later MLB coach. But Berra became equally if not more famous for his colorful malapropisms, commonly known to fans today as “Yogi-isms.”
What made the Yogi Berra outlook on the world so beguiling? No matter how much he butchered the language in his own captivating way, everyone always knew exactly what he meant to say along with the subtler meaning behind it.
So much a part of the fabric of Americana have so Many of Berra’s gentle philosophical observations became everyday household phrases, even for those who never heard of him. They remain a key strand embedded in the vast complicated fabric of Americana to this day.
Yogi’s Top Ten Pronouncements
So in the tradition of classic replays, we present Myth Trivia’s Top Ten Yogi-isms. They appear in no particular order:
- When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
- You can observe a lot by just watching.
- It ain’t over till it’s over.
- It’s like déjà vu all over again.
- No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.
- Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.
- It gets late early out here.
- You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.
- If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.
- Congratulations. I knew the record would stand until it was broken.
A speech Yogi Berra made (or might have made)
In later life, Yogi Berra admitted that some the expressions fans attributed to him were things he never said. That said, in tribute to his legendary skill in the English language, we offer the text of a commencement speech supposedly delivered by Yogi at St Louis University in 2007.
What it really is is a collection of numerous sayings that Yogi accumulated and put together into a speech. Sit back and enjoy the wit and wisdom of English as a Second Language (ESL) through the eyes of Yogi Berra.
“Thank you all for being here tonight. I know this is a busy time of year, and if you weren’t here, you could probably be somewhere else.
“I especially want to thank the administration at St. Louis University for making this day necessary. It is an honor to receive this honorary degree. It is wonderful to be here in St. Louis and to visit the old neighborhood. I haven’t been back since the last time I was here.
“Everything looks the same, only different. Of course, things in the past are never as they used to be.
“Before I speak, I have something I’d like to say. To be honest, I’m not much of a public speaker, so I will try to keep this short as long as I can.
“As I look out upon all of the young people here tonight, there are a number of words of wisdom I might depart. But I think the most irrelevant piece of advice I can pass along is this: ‘The most important things in life are the things that are least important.’
“I could have gone a number of directions in my life. Growing up on the Hill, I could have opened a restaurant or a bakery. But the more time I spent in places like that, the less time I wanted to spend there.
“I knew that if I wanted to play baseball, I was going to have to play baseball. My childhood friend, Joe Garagiola, also became a big-league ballplayer, as did my son, Dale. I think you’ll find the similarities in our careers are quite different.
“You’re probably wondering, how does a kid from the Hill become a New York Yankee and get in the Hall of Fame? Well, let me tell you something, if it was easy nobody would do it. Nothing is impossible until you make it possible.
“Of course, times were different. To be honest, I was born at an early age. Things are much more confiscated now. It seems like a nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore. But let me tell you, if the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be. Even Napoleon had his Watergate.
“You’ll make some wrong mistakes along the way, but only the wrong survive. Never put off until tomorrow what you can’t do today.
“Strive for success and remember you won’t get what you want unless you want what you get. Some will choose a different path. If they don’t want to come along, you can’t stop them.
“Treat others before you treat yourself.
“Hold on to your integrity, ladies and gentlemen. It’s the one thing you really need to have; if you don’t have it, that’s why you need it. Work hard to reach your goals. There may come a day when you get hurt and have to miss work. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt to miss work.
“We all have limitations, but we also know limitation is the greatest form of flattery.
“Half the lies you hear won’t be true, and half the things you say, you won’t ever say.
“As parents you’ll want to give your children all the things
you didn’t have. But don’t buy them an encyclopedia, make them walk to school like you did. Teach them to have respect for others, especially the police. They are not here to create disorder, they are here to preserve it.
“Throughout my career, I found good things always came in pairs of three. There will be times when you are an over-whelming underdog. Give 100 percent to everything you do, and when that’s not enough, give everything you have left.
“Finally, dear graduates and friends, cherish this moment; it is a memory you will never forget. You have your entire future ahead of you.”
This article on the wisdom of Yogi Berra is updated and reprinted for posterity from an April 2015 CDN article.
— Headline image: Yogi Berra in 2005. Screen grab via American Academy of Achievement YouTube video.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.