The Day I Met Yogi Berra, Plus 10 Yogi Berrisms

Blue Wood

By Unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago, I ran into Yogi Berra in an unlikely place … in a line at my pharmacy. I’m a New Jerseyan, and I knew he lived somewhere locally. I didn’t realize just how local he was. He lived at that time in a town neighboring mine, Montclair, where Montclair State University has a stadium and museum named for him.

Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, By ikon.5 Architects [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When I first saw Mr. Berra in the pharmacy line, I wasn’t quite sure it was him, but I certainly thought it was a man who resembled him. I kept looking at him and wondering. At the time, I was seeing Mr. Berra in a few TV commercials for Entenmann’s cookies — “The box is always open until it’s closed” — and for a local car dealership. I thought perhaps I was mistaken, and this gentleman in the line just happened to have similar physical characteristics and also just happened to be wearing a Yankee baseball cap. The pharmacists behind the counter sure seemed excited to see him and were giving him the VIP treatment, bumping him to the front of the line. I knew for sure I had correctly identified him when I saw his prescription bag, and the name label, “Berra, Lawrence P.”

For a moment or two, I wondered if I should try and get an autograph for my oldest brother who is a big Yankee fan, but then I was too shy and didn’t want Mr. Berra to feel pestered. I expect though, that if I had pestered him, he would have reacted graciously.

It’s an interesting memory of running into a famous person in an unlikely place.

Here is a list of 10 unusual confused sayings — Yogi Berrisms — attributed to the player.

  1. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
Photo by Jens Leslie on Unsplash

Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less travelled by.” Yogi says to just take it, both roads apparently … unless he means that if you happen to see a piece of tined silverware in the middle of the road, you should pick it up and take it home.

2. A nickel isn’t worth a dime today.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This might make a little more sense if it was, “A nickel isn’t worth a penny today,” or even, “A nickel isn’t worth a nickel today.” A nickel was never worth a dime, and if it was, that sure would be handy.

3. “You should always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise, they won’t come to yours.” 

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Hhmmm… If people, whose funerals I have attended in the past, come to mine, I suppose I won’t know it, but a few other people might be freaked out.

4. “The future ain’t what it used to be.” 

Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

I can think of a sense in which this is true. The idea of what the future will look like has changed from past times. Back in the ’80s, I watched a movie, made in the ’60s, supposedly set in a far future time. The only problem was, this fictional future involved already outdated technology, giant clunky early computers.

5. “You got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

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So, it’s possible that I may never arrive at some mysterious, unknown location and end up in an entirely different unknown location instead? Gotcha.

6. “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”

Photo by Grace Evans on Unsplash

I think the word you are searching for, Mr. Berra, is ambidextrous. I do know some guys who are amphibious … Kermit the Frog, Mr. Toad, Michigan J. Frog, Crazy Frog …

7. “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”

Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

I think we are confusing our politicians here.


8. “Baseball is 90 percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

Photo by Jose Morales on Unsplash

I was an English major, not a math major, but I still think those are some interesting numbers.

9. “You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”

Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash

So, you’re saying that if I cut the pizza in fewer pieces, I’m eating less? This is good to know.

Some of these quotes may be disputed or slightly changed from the original, and this perfectly explains the last Yogi Berrism.

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

By Bowman Gum (Heritage Auctions) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I get you, Mr. Berra. I get you.