“You Can Observe a Lot Just by Watching:” A Tribute to Yogi Berra and Yogi-isms

By Jed Rendleman

September 23, 2015

Sam Falk, The New York Times

Yogi Berra may have been one of the game’s most accomplished catchers, but he was without a doubt the most clever wordsmith of baseball. He was known for his charisma and wit, which inspired the popular cartoon Yogi Bear, and which are embodied by his hilarious and often paradoxical epigrams affectionately known as Yogi-isms. With Yogi Berra’s death, the world lost not only a champion of athleticism and creativity, but also one of one of the most adored names in sports.

Berra, born Larry, or Lawdie, as his mother called him, received his lovable nickname as a teenager while he and his friends were watching a travelogue about India. When a Hindu yogi sitting cross-legged appeared on the screen, a friend remarked that he looked just like Berra sitting on the ground in the dugout, waiting for his turn to bat. The world never looked back – he was Yogi Berra, a nickname that would become as unforgettable as Babe Ruth, The Great Bambino, The Sultan of Swat.

Seeing as Yogi is probably of the first to so intimately pair catching and words, Catchword feels it is our duty to present a compendium of some of his wittiest witticisms. While many sources agree that Yogi never uttered some of the most notable quotations attributed to him, Berra was known for his often unintended hilarity and his seemingly limitless supply of absurdly profound wisdom, so he really could have said any of these gems. Ironically, one of the few verified Yogi-isms is “I didn’t really say everything I said.” Regardless of who really coined them, you can find many of them in his book. Catch some of our favorite Yogi-isms below.

  • “It was déjà vu all over again.” (in reaction to back-to-back home runs)
  • “It ain’t over till it’s over.” (of the Mets, who he managed, when they were in fifth place. They eventually rallied to win the National League East)
  • “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” (directions to his home, which could be reached by taking either road of the fork)
  • “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” (of a popular restaurant)
  • “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.” (advice to a young player who was trying to emulate the slugger Frank Robinson’s swing)
  • “You can observe a lot by just watching.” (on his strategy as a manager)
  • “I want to thank everybody for making this night necessary.” (in response to being honored at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis)
  • “You better cut the pizza in four pieces. I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”
  • “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
  • “I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.”
  • “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”
  • “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
  • “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.”
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