Yogi Berra: Intentionally Unintentional

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

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

“It’s like deja vu all over again.”

Today we’re mourning the loss of beloved wordsmith and famed New York Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra. He is one of my favorite people I’ve never met. (See what I did there?)

A Tribute To Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra sat behind the plate for the New York Yankees for nearly two decades (1947-1965). He was well-loved on the team, but what I find most interesting is that he’s not known for his professional sports career—although, he is.

He’s most well known for his “unintentional philosophy”; the way he twisted his words  made him sound silly, but most of what he said made a lot of sense. It made more than sense—it made some dollars, too. Plenty of books have been filled with Yogi’s unintentional philosophy, one of which I bought my dad for Christmas one year and labeled it with as much confusing language as possible while still making it clear who it was to and from. I don’t remember what I wrote, but Yogi would have been proud.

Anyways. I find it interesting that Yogi was most known for the things he did—and didn’t—say. Of course, he’s still touted as one of the greatest catchers in the game of baseball, and the Yankees even retired his number 8 jersey in 1972, the same year Yogi was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. There’s even a Yogi Berra Museum! (Which is now on my bucket list.)

But his legacy isn’t in his glove, it was in his mouth.

If It Matters, It Matters

I like this idea of leaving a legacy in something that matters. Yogi had a successful career and platform in the baseball business, but he used that success for something greater than baseball. Not that baseball doesn’t matter at all—it provides entertainment for the general public and gives enough (ha!) for players to live on. But in the grand scheme of things, the world could go on without baseball (especially the Stankees). The simple truths that Yogi uniquely stated in his own way makes us laugh, think, and appreciate life beyond the entertainment of baseball.

Yogi’s thoughts grant us some perspective, making us do a double-take on some simple wisdom.

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” Be quiet and pay attention—you just might learn something.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Don’t worry too much about where to go next—make the most of your opportunities and don’t forget to laugh.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” Do what you can to make a better tomorrow.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up somewhere else.” Be intentional. 

“You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours!” Yogi’s version of the Golden Rule. Treat others how you want to be treated!

There’s a lot we can learn from Yogi’s wit and wisdom, but maybe not the finer details of the English language. Or maybe that’s exactly what we can learn—how we can use language to communicate a message. Yogi mixed the art and science of the English language for the symbiotic relationship of poignancy and humor. Brilliant!

So, the question begs to be answered: What legacy are you leaving and what messages are you communicating…and do they matter?

What matters most doesn’t really matter, so long as it matters.

(That was mine, not Yogi’s, but I think he’d unanimously agree.)


One thought on “Yogi Berra: Intentionally Unintentional

Add yours

  1. So…. How long did it take you to wipe that awesome story up? You are a pretty fantastic writer Gehman. For realzzzzz.

    Jesus Loves You!


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