I was listening to "Car Talk" on NPR, and for some reason they started off with Yogi Berra quotes, and that got me going. Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra is said to have been the greatest catcher in major league baseball history, and one of the greatest non-pitching players. Some refer to him as one of the greatest American philosophers. American philosophy hasn't a high reputation, but judge for yourself.
"I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early."
"It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much."
Concerning Coney Island: "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."
At times, there was indeed great wisdom in his nonsense, such as when he said, "You can observe a lot by watching."
Once, Yogi's wife Carmen asked, "Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?" Yogi replied, "Surprise me."
On the subject of funerals, Yogi held that, "You should always go to other people's funerals, otherwise, they won't come to yours."
Asked for the time, he came back with, "Do you mean now?"
His surprising turns and comebacks remind me of Groucho Marx who for example once mused, "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." A little more biting and personal was, "I've had a wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." Berra, who must have grown up under Marx's influence, quipped in the same league. When the wife of New York City mayor, John Lindsey, told him he looked cool, he responded, "Thanks, you don't look so hot yourself."
The Yankees might have had this thought in mind before last night's season opener against the Red Sox. "The other teams could make trouble for us if they win." That one reminds me of something Barney Frank (D-MA) said during a legislative defeat for his party when they were out of power in the nineties: “The Republicans,” he complained, “are just using their votes to win.” But he was serious.
He is perhaps best known for his reflection, "It ain't over till it's over." But some of these sayings may be apocryphal, because Berra himself claimed, "I really didn't say everything I said!"
Yogi Berra still walks among us. He is 84.