Yogi Berra

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I really didn't say everything I said.

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (May 12, 1925September 22, 2015) was an American baseball player, manager and member of Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame, noted for his bad-ball hitting, his ability to perform in the clutch, and his peculiar, humorous-sounding statements. Most people have heard at least some of these statements, often without knowing the source. Though very few of the quotes attributed to Berra are malapropisms, Berra's apparently unintentionally humorous statements have been mistakenly labeled as such by some writers.

Quotes[edit]

Chronological, by date of first occurrence (where available) or by original publication date.

  • You guys are trying to stop Musial in 15 minutes while the National League ain’t stopped him in 15 years.
    • Speaking with teammates on July 12, 1949, during a pre-All-Star-Game clubhouse meeting, as quoted in Baseball is a Funny Game (1960) by Joe Garagiola; cited in "Point Blank" by Don Bryant, in The Lincoln Star (Sunday, June 5, 1960), p. 31.
  • From the kids on the neighborhood Stag Athletic Club baseball team on the Hill. We went to a movie one afternoon, and there was one of those yogi characters in the picture. Coming out of the joint, one of the kids looked at me, started laughing, and said: "Hey, Berra walks just like that yogi in the movie." I've been Yogi ever since.
  • What's wrong with readin' comic books? I don't understand this kiddin' about readin' comic books. When I get through with 'em the other players on our club borrow them from me. Nobody makes a fuss about that.
  • Before the payoff game in a World Series with the Dodgers in Brooklyn, Casey Stengel said in the clubhouse, "Well, this is it. Now who do you want to pitch? The 40 guys in the clubhouse shouted "Raschi!" so loud the Dodgers must have heard it across the way. That's what we Yankees thought of Raschi. What did Raschi have? He had a slider and a curve that wasn't too good, but what made him so rough was a fast ball that got them out. Funny thing about him was that he couldn't relieve as good as Toots Shor. The guy was built to finish what he started.
  • Lopat was the cutest of the gang, the easiest to catch because he had almost perfect control of every pitch at different speeds. He made batters impatient. They couldn't wait for what looked so easy to hit and they'd swing at his motion.
  • But it don't bother me. I never yet saw anybody hit the baseball with their face. Besides, I like to get kidded; that means they like me. When they stop kidding me, I'm in trouble.
    • As quoted in "Stupid, You Say?" by Frank Litsky, in The Milwaukee Sentinel American Weekly (Sunday, September 18, 1960), p. 7.
  • Sometimes I think there must be two Yogi Berras. There is the one who grew up on the Hill in St, Louis, who's been playing ball for the Yankees for fourteen years, has a beautiful wife named Carmen and three boys, Larry, Timmy, and Dale, and lives in a nice house in Montclair, N. J. That's me. Then there's the one you read about in the papers who is a kind of a comic-strip character, like Li'l Abner or Joe Palooka. [...] I don't know that Yogi at all, because he doesn't exist.
    • From Yogi: The Autobiography of a Professional Baseball Player (February 1961) by Berra with Ed Fitzgerald; reproduced in "Berra Dispels Li'l Abner Myth" by Berra and Fitzgerald, in The Boston Globe (Saturday, July 2, 1961), p. A1.
  • People seem to find it hard to believe, but I'm a very serious person. It wasn't luck that I became a ballplayer. I never wanted to be anything else and I never considered anything else and I worked my tail off for it. To say that I don't have any worries or nerves is the opposite of the truth. I worry about not being able to get around on the fast ball any more, I worry about getting hurt and having to quit playing before my time. I worry about the bowling alley I own with Phil Rizzuto making money. I worry about keeping Carm happy so she won't be sorry she married me, about the kids growing up good, and about keeping out of trouble with God. I worry a lot. I'm nobody's mascot, either. Sure, I like to get along with people and I hope I've made friends, but that's different.
    • From Yogi: The Autobiography of a Professional Baseball Player; reproduced in "Berra Dispels Li'l Abner Myth."

Yogiisms[edit]

Sourced[edit]

It ain't over 'til it's over.
The origin and date of first occurrence for most Yogiisms is unknown. These quotes from his writings are listed here alphabetically.
  • Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they won't go to yours.
    • When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!: Inspiration and Wisdom from One of Baseball's Greatest Heroes, Hyperion, 2002, ISBN 0786867752, p. 163.
  • I knew the record would stand until it was broken.
    • The Yogi book: I really didn't say everything I said!, Workman Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0761110909, p. 91. Originally from a congratulatory telegram to Johnny Bench on breaking his record for home runs by a catcher.
  • I looked like this when I was young, and I still do.
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743237684
  • I really didn't say everything I said. [...] Then again, I might have said 'em, but you never know.
    • The Yogi book: I really didn't say everything I said!, Workman Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0761110909, p. 9.
  • If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be.
    • When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!: Inspiration and Wisdom from One of Baseball's Greatest Heroes, Hyperion, 2002, ISBN 0786867752, p. 154
  • If you ask me a question I don't know, I'm not going to answer.
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 101.
  • If you can't imitate him, don't copy him.
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 15
If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.
  • If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.
    • When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!: Inspiration and Wisdom from One of Baseball's Greatest Heroes, Hyperion, 2002, ISBN 0786867752, p. 53
    • Variant: You've got to be careful if you don't know where you're going because you might not get there.
      • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 39
    • Variant: If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up somewhere else.[citation needed]
  • It ain't over 'til it's over.
    • The Yogi Book (1998).
  • It gets late early out there.
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 27
    • Variant: It gets late awfully early around here.[citation needed]
    • Referring to the adverse sun conditions in left field at Yankee Stadium.
  • Little things are big.
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 69.
  • Ninety percent of this game is half-mental.
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 45. This version is also attributed to Philadelphia Philles manager Danny Ozark.
    • Variant: Ninety percent of this game is mental, and the other half is physical.[citation needed]
  • Pair up in threes.
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 123.
  • Thank you for making this day necessary.
    • The Yogi book: I really didn't say everything I said!, Workman Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0761110909, p. 10.
    • Said on Yogi Berra day in 1947 in St. Louis. By his account, he asked a teammate to write a speech, and he misspoke, saying "necessary" instead of "possible."
  • We made too many wrong mistakes.
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 75
    • On why the Yankees lost the 1960 series to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • You can observe a lot by watching.
    • You Can Observe a Lot by Watching: What I've Learned About Teamwork From the Yankees and Life, John Wiley & Sons, 2008, ISBN 9780470079928
  • [What time is it?] You mean now?
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532
    • He was on a passenger jet at the time, so he was not sure in which time zone he was.

Sourced, but originality to Berra disputed[edit]

  • If people don't want to come to the ballpark how are you going to stop them?
    • The Yogi book: I really didn't say everything I said!, Workman Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0761110909, p. 36.
      • The quote "If people don’t want to come, nothing will stop them" first appears in 1952, credited to music impressario Sol Hurok.[1]
  • It's déjà vu all over again.
    • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 137.
      • Found in a poem by Jim Prior published in a Florida newspaper in 1962. Berra claimed to have made the remark around 1961; the earliest published evidence linking the saying to Berra does not appear until 1984.[2]
  • Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.
    • The Yogi Book. New York: Workman Publishing. 1997. ISBN 0-7611-1090-9, p. 16
    • Variant: It's so crowded, nobody goes there.
      • What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 81.
        • Found in newspapers from the early twentieth century[3]
  • When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
    • When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!: Inspiration and Wisdom from One of Baseball's Greatest Heroes, Hyperion, 2002, ISBN 0786867752, p. 1
    • Also in What Time Is It? You Mean Now?: Advice for Life from the Zennest Master of Them All, Simon and Schuster, 2003, ISBN 0743244532, p. 33
    • Berra says this is part of driving directions to his house in Montclair, New Jersey. There is a fork in the road, and whichever way you take, you will get to his house.
      • Found in newspapers as early as 1913.[4]


Misattributed[edit]

  • In theory there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is.
    • Attributed in Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile - Things that Gain From Disorder (2012), p. 213.
    • The earliest known appearance of this quote in print is Walter J. Savitch, Pascal: An Introduction to the Art and Science of Programming (1984), where it is attributed as a "remark overheard at a computer science conference". It circulated as an anonymous saying for more than ten years before attributions to Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut and Yogi Berra began to appear (and later still to various others).
  • Never answer an anonymous letter.
    • Berra expressly denied this widespread attribution in Yogi: It Ain’t Over (1989), p. 11, but later embraced it in The Yogi Book: I really didn’t say everything I said! (1998). Quote Investigator traces this saying to the 19th century.
  • The future ain't what it used to be.
    • When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!: Inspiration and Wisdom from One of Baseball's Greatest Heroes, Hyperion, 2002, ISBN 0786867752, p. 159.
    • Paul Valery (1937): "The future, like everything else, is no longer quite what it used to be.". Translated in English in 1948 in “Our Destiny and Literature".
  • It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future
    • The earliest citations of this proverb, from the mid-twentieth century, refer to it as Danish in origin. [5]

Quotes about Berra[edit]

Berra hit that first home run off his chin. It was two strikes and Newk was just wasting one. I guess you have to hit Yogi to keep him from hitting you. You can't throw it bad enough by him.
Roy Campanella

Alphabetical, by author/speaker.

  • Sure, his control wasn't perfect, but he didn't make all the mistakes he seemed to make. Berra hit that first home run off his chin. It was two strikes and Newk was just wasting one. I guess you have to hit Yogi to keep him from hitting you. You can't throw it bad enough by him. [...] Man, that Berra is a killer. All Newcombe has to do is get a third strike past him and he's probably pitching yet. Mantle? You saw how big Newk threw those strikes past him. Struck him out twice, didn't he?
  • A remark once attributed to Sam Goldwyn will be attributed to Yogi Berra.
    • Jimmy Cannon, from "Jimmy Cannon Says: Guaranteed to Happen During the Baseball Season" in New York Newsday (Thursday, April 5, 1956), p. 15C.
  • Well, we heard he was a high-ball hitter. All that means is his strength is a little stronger on high pitches than on low. We knew there wasn't much we could do.
    • Del Crandall, as quoted in "Braves Don't Dig Yogi: Good Hits Off Bad Balls" by Jack Mann, in Newsday (Thursday, October 10, 1957), p. 17C
  • The Bombers set a home run record and Yogi Berra, a vest-pocket immortal for the future, flailed past Lou Gehrig, a large, economy-size immortal from the past, in the runs-batted-in department. Yogi was the batting hero with the top average of .360 and that has to tickle everybody who knows him because Yogi is a delightful little guy. His ailing mother asked him to hit a couple of homers for her. "I'll try, Mom," said Yogi. He made no rash promises. He merely said he'd do his best and his best was good enough. He's such a sweet fellow that he couldn't even rub it into Don Newcombe when big Newk went to bat after Yogi had clouted his second homer of the finale. "I hit a pretty good pitch, Newk," said Yogi as he crouched behind the plate. Berra was trying to soften the pain. "Yes, you did," agreed Newk glumly.
  • Most of the Yankee attack this season came right from Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. And right there, I think, is the center of this whole debate. You take Mantle, and if Ol' Diz is back a few years he gives him the high fast one on the inside and he strikes out. Oh, he hits the ball a mile during the season—but in a seven-game World Series those strikeouts hurt and that's what I figure that guy will do a lot, especially seeing that he's injured. This leaves the Yankees with Berra, which ain't bad. He is the most dangerous hitter in the American League. A tough game is his particular kind of bear meat. He chews along easy-like, then hits any pitch in the book out of sight.
  • Yogi is the most relaxed hitter I ever saw or faced. What a guy! In spite of all the great things he's accomplished over the years he's lost none of his humility and none of his niceness. He's truly one of nature's noblemen.
    • Bob Friend, as quoted in "Sports of The Times: The Little Record-Breaker" by Arthur Daley, in The New York Times (October 18, 1960)
  • I remember a game I was broadcasting. Yogi was in left and Mickey Mantle was in center. Yogi whistled to Mantle and started moving him around. After the game I asked Yogi why he was giving advice to Mantle, a great center fielder for so many years. You know what he told me? "Joey, Mickey didn't know that the guy hits there with two strikes." Yogi knows baseball. There's no doubt about that.
  • Fans have labeled Yogi Berra "Mr. Malaprop," but I don't think that's accurate. He doesn't use the wrong words. He just puts words together in ways nobody else would ever do.
    • Joe Garagiola, foreword to The Yogi book: I really didn't say everything I said!, Workman Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0761110909.
  • They made up amusing stories about Berra. He read comic books. It seemed incongruous to see him catching the college-bred Raschi and Reynolds and the chubby little man of the world, Lopat. But they were perfectly content to let the squatty kid from The Hill in St. Louis call the shots. The pitcher has yet to come along who didn't want to throw to Berra. A ballplayer doesn't have to have higher education when he has baseball instinct, and Berra was richly endowed with that. Yogi Berra is a rich man materially now, but there is no more swagger in him than there was when he first showed up, a humble lad not quite sure where he belonged and asking nothing more than the chance. Now, at least, you know he belonged.
  • Yogi had the fastest bat I ever saw. he could hit a ball late that was already past him, and take it out of the park. The pitchers were afraid of him because he'd hit anything, so they didn't know what to throw. Yogi had them psyched out and he wasn't even trying to psyche them out.
  • Yogi Berra, christened Lawrence, is the Sam Goldwyn of the baseball industry. The late Goldwyn, a highly successful movie executive, was famous for his quaint and curious aberrations in talking:
    "Gentlemen, include me out."
    "I can answer that in two words: im-possible!"
    "Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined."
    These lapses, known as Goldwynisms, were mainly the creations of the Goldwyn press department. And so it is with Berra — a public relations man, Jackie Farrell, of the New York Yankees, contrived most of the quips and gaffes attributed to the illustrious catcher-turned-manager.
  • He hit it off the ground. And in the eighth, off the same pitch—a low, inside fast ball—he hits inside third. Three hits and he didn't hit a good pitch all day. How the hell do you pitch a guy like that?
    • Del Rice, as quoted in "Braves Don't Dig Yogi: Good Hits Off Bad Balls" by Jack Mann, in Newsday (Thursday, October 10, 1957), p. 17C.
  • After the seventh inning, when runs count the most, he's the most dangerous hitter who ever lived.
    • Paul Richards, as quoted in "This Morning... With Shirley Povich," in The Washington Post (Monday, April 30, 1956), p. 12
  • He's smart, all right. There's no one in baseball smarter than Yogi.
  • Poor Yogi. Everybody's picking on him. Whenever he gets a hit and you ask him if it was high or low, he just mumbles: "I dunno. It was a good one."
    • Frank Shea, as quoted in "Sports of the Times: Overheard at the Stadium" by Arthur Daley, in The New York Times (Saturday, August 28, 1948)
  • People think Mickey Mantle is the toughest hitter in the league, but I can usually get him out if I don't make a mistake. The real toughest clutch hitter is Berra. As you change speeds and move around, Berra moves right with you. Rosen does the same thing, but fortunately he's playing third behind me so I don't have to pitch to him. Believe me, the two best clutch hitters in the game are Berra and Rosen. Most of us pitchers wish to hell they'd switch to golf.
  • Yogi, and all the Yankees, for that matter. But I saw Clemente when I was coaching for the Mets. I believe he was the best I saw.
    • Eddie Yost (aka baseball's "Walking Man"), singling out two of the most celebrated bad-ball hitters in MLB history as the best players he'd ever seen, as quoted in Baseball Stars of the 1950s: Interviews With All-Stars of the Game’s Golden Era (1993) by Brent Kelley, p. 187

External links[edit]

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