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Yogi Berra – Ain’t Over ‘til …

Posted on Tuesday, May 2, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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15 Comments
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Life lessons come from the oddest places, banging a knee, bumping your head, making an error (as we say in Maine, errah) and people like Yogi Berra. One of Yogi’s best – that 18-time “All Star,” 10-time world Series catcher – was “It ain’t over til its over.” He was famous for his “malapropisms.” A few are worth remembering in times that test our temper and worry the staunchest among us.

When you look around these days, what you often see is a lack of dreams not a “field of dreams,” less individuality, initiation, and imagination, more “go along to get along,” head down, join of the crowd.

That is not, of course, what made greats like Yogi Berra – who was a no-excuses son of two Italian immigrants, proud American from birth to death, always stepping up, Navy gunner’s mate in the Normandy landings, won a purple heart that day, shot in the left hand, never looked back.

While he threw right-handed, he batted left-handed, but the old injury never bothered him – risk taken, damage sustained, mission completed, and onward. That was Yogi, focused, no excuses. His name came from a buddy who thought he looked like a yoga instructor, intent, hands and legs crossed waiting to bat.

Always eager to do his part, intent on fulfilling the mission, wanting to be counted, worth being counted on, sad when he lost, happy when he won, everything on his sleeve, funny once done.

Giving directions to a friend – knowing there were two ways – he advised, “When you come to a fork, take it.” That was his basic mantra, go with the flow, make a choice, it will get you there.

On other occasions, he quipped about being in the moment, staying focused, caring about friends. “You can observe a lot watching,” he intoned. About baseball, “ninety percent of the game is half mental.” About friends, “always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.”

If his wit is endearing, his life reminds us of what we forget. You are either in the game or not, part of the next play or not, willing to take risks, swing for the fence, help others – or benched.  

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Too much of America seems to think you can hit, run, and score from the bench, that stepping up is for others, risks too hard, losing too unpleasant, learning and working as Yogi did beneath them. They think blending is the way to go, letting history roll over them, not making it.

Here is a secret: Yogi was always himself, respectful of history, his elders and hard-working peers, aware success takes years. He was not cowed by others, even Steinbrenner, the owner.

He was a straight-up patriot, no apologies for friends, faith, or country, a sound example for our times, emblematic of his. He was what Americans look like at our best, freewheeling, confident, inventive but humble, all-in. no half measures, worthy of veneration – like his generation.

More than 500 major league baseball players volunteered for World War II. Yogi was just one. Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer, joined the Navy in 1942, became a Marine fighter pilot, later flew combat missions in Korea, confident on any field.

Baseball and war are not perfect metaphors for life or decision-making, but they are not bad. America could use more Yogis right now. His life reminds me of COL Potter’s philosophy, in the old television series on wartime Korea, M.A.S.H. “If you ain’t where you are, you’re no place.”

In other words, make today count, give up on nothing, turn into the wind, into the pitch, ride the gale. Dare to BE, GIVE and SERVE where you are. Good things will come – best that can – from that conviction, personally and nationally, if we keep swinging, our eye on the ball. “It’ ain’t over ‘til its over,” so use your head. Quoting Yogi, “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman2 for AMAC.

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johnh
johnh
10 months ago

Yogi Berra is on of THE GREATEST GENERATION & is one of the many that made USA the greatest country in the world in the 1950-60s. Yogi was a class act & USA needs many more just like him.

anna hubert
anna hubert
10 months ago

Those were the days when people knew which side was up Today it’s any which way you want it to be Confusing

George
George
10 months ago

Vietnam Veteran here- we could definitely use a lot more patriotism now. Especially with the mess in the White House screwing up America.

Margaret
Margaret
10 months ago

My husband met him several times in Montclair, NJ, and he assisted him in opening his business. Yogi was very gracious and signed autographs. The man was a true patriot.

Hal-
Hal-
10 months ago

As I recall … Yogi was given credit for advising his out-town-friends who were planning to visit the top restaurant in NY …. his advice went something like >>> NOT visiting that restaurant because it was unpopular since it was always too crowded!!!

Joel S
Joel S
10 months ago

My favorite Berra quote was after the streaking incident…”I couldn’t tell if they were men or women running naked across the field, they had bags over their heads”. I loved the baseball analogies, my Dad would have had a chuckle over those also (WWII vet, Iwo Jima, Purple Heart).

Steven Coughlin
Steven Coughlin
10 months ago

We need millions of Yogis. P.S. Never answer an anonymous letter.

SusanW
SusanW
10 months ago

Love Yogi Berra! Such a wise man! And, as another one of my favorite baseball players, Babe Ruth once said, “ You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up.” That’s powerful. Just think about it. As a passionate educator I tried every day to encourage my children not to ever give up on their dreams and beliefs. It was hard because they were only hearing it from me. So many have given up on hope and dreams. How do we turn the tide?

Thanks again, RBC, for caring.

”Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”. WC

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