Yogi Berra: The Brains, the Heart, and the Courage of a Champion

By Sydney Stachyra 9/24/15

Yogi (Lawrence Peter) Berra passed away yesterday, September 22nd, 2015, at age 90. He entered into the world of Major League baseball 69 years to the date of his departure from this one. To attempt to encompass everything is great man accomplished in his 90 years would require far more time and space, and even then, to capture the essences of all the lives he has affected would be an impossible feet. Instead, this is a brief highlight reel of the great number 8 with some of his famous Yogi-isms throughout in honor of his memory.

“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.”

They say in baseball that it’s all about getting hot at the right time. Well Yogi certainly had that timing and success followed. He had 10 world series rings, was a 3 time MVP, a 15 time All-Star, caught for the New York Yankees until 1965, went on to manage for the Yankees, Mets, and Astros, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 and had his jersey number retired by the Yankees.

Yogi knew the game inside and out, “baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical”, but he had a sense of easy in the game and his ability to look at the big picture made him a leader amongst his teammates. He wasn’t terribly concerned with the little things and knew that baseball was a game of the mind, like blaming yourself for not hitting won’t make you hit. He only struck out roughly 15 times in a whole season with over 500 at bats with the mentality: “I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?” A life lesson really, as most Yogi-isms are.

“I never said most of the things I said.”

He was incredibly humble, but did so much for people in his lifetime. It was merely part of his nature, take care of one another, a true team player. Being the observant man he was, he used his power as a public figure to make a difference.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” Yogi donated to multiple charity organizations over the years as well as focused his efforts for social change through the Learning Center in his Museum. The Center not only provides sports education to students but speaks to the values sports brings to humanity and the conflicts it brings up that we can learn from. He was a thoughtful person but a man of action: “how can you think and hit at the same time?”

He courageously served in the U.S. Navy at age 18 during World War II where he and his crew-mates provided cover fire during the D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach. A man of action and duty, a leader with a strong sense of teamwork. This is something Berra exemplified in all aspects of his life, not just on the battle or ball fields.

“We have deep depth.”

He was a leader on the field and off the field, but he also managed to do all this and have a home. He had 65 year marriage with his wife Carmen and they had three sons, Tim, Dale, and Lawrence Jr. He was a father as he was a leader: “I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”, it’s all based in the experience of life, all in the living.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Yogi has taught us to live life to the fullest and do the best we can every moment while taking in the world around us. Simply put, in Yogi fashion, he taught us: be where you are, you can’t be anywhere else. The life of Yogi Berra is an inspiration and his Yogi-isms along with the acts done by his big heart will live on for years to come.

Picture Courtesy of Deadspin.com