Thursday, September 24, 2015

Being loved

There are many tributes to Yogi Berra. The most amazing is the universal love that people have for him. Yogi was very small by baseball standards. I doubt a 5'7'' man would be allowed to catch. He would probably be moved to second base. Perhaps given his excellent arm third base. He was a very competent outfielder.

What makes Yogi so loveable is the humility and decency. I don't think he ever bragged or said a bad word about any athlete. He mentored in a simple way and mentored hundreds. He took great pride in the game winning triple by Joe Girardi a fellow Italian Catcher. He had a key triple in a one zero game and Yogi beamed with pride about some player he called Joe Girardio.

Modesty and a good sense of humor are the reasons many of us love Terry Bradshaw or Michael Strahan. In the end it is meant as a form of entertainment. There is room for thoughtful analysis but there is a difference between the classy
Chris Colinsworth and the loathed Tiki Barber. Throwing athletes under the bus when you were the king of fumbles and excuses is low class. The other athletes do not need to mention their history. If you didn't know Bradshaw has won four Super Bowls you would mistake him for the NFL version of Bob Uker. Phil Simms is a first rate commentator who might talk in passing about his career.

What is also belongs in a discussion of Yogi is his love of his wife and his friendships. He played cards with Phil Rizuto as the later was in hospice. He went home only when his friend went to sleep. He called his wife Carmen his greatest team mate. It is fitting that the Yankee greats were on hand for the great runs in the late 90s.

Hopefully Derek Jeter as the greatest living Yankee will assume some sort of role like Berra. He does have the love of the game. He also has enough resources that he need never work again. The torch of Berra has now been passed to a
Different sort. Jeter has more diva in him but understands the traditions and history of the Yankees.

One almost never heard Berra discuss his service in World War 2. Perhaps being there on D Day made every future situation trite. He didn't whine about missing time to serve his country.

What surprised me the most is how his Yogisms are even known abroad. Sometimes I quote him as a local philosopher. Apparently, these may have taken a life of their own. Berra said "I never said half of the things I said". I can relate to this as my sense of humor is widely known. I get credit for many jokes that I never uttered. Some of these are better than the ones I did.

Yogi groomed the late Elston Howard as his successor. Howard was the first Black Yankee and later one of the first Black coaches. You hear plenty about Berra being mentored by Bill Dickey but very little about how Berra mentored Howard. Sadly in the great tradition of Yankee catchers Howard and Munson died way too early. Munson like Berra was devoted to his family. He was the heart and soul of those 70 teams. Sadly Munson and Murcer are no longer with us.

The term national treasure is thrown around too frequently. However in the case of Yogi it was well deserved. I intend to drink a bottle of Yoo Hoo in his honor.


Ducky's here said...

Greatest living Yankee --- Whitey Ford

beakerkin said...

One could make that claim as he is the last Hall of Famer linked to Dimagio and Mantle. I would go with Jeter.

BB-Idaho said...

An 18 year old Yogi doing his job on D-day off Omaha Beach. One of the Greatest Generation. You are right about the rest of his career,
and how many baseball players have contributed to the humor of language?

beakerkin said...

I think his modesty is part of the charm. It is the reason the public loves Terry Bradshaw and Michael Strahan. Modesty and a sense of humor go a long way.