Baseball Intelligence(B-IQ): October, 2015(#50)

“The Essence of a REAL American HERO!”

“It still might not be over!”

Just last month we discussed the lack of real heroes on our athletic fields and the dearth of role models in the sports community. Sadly, in the short time between this B-IQ and September, a truly great baseball hero passed! Lorenzo Pietro Berra, aka Lawrence Peter Berra, aka “YOGI”! Yogi was not just a hero but a legendary American icon…it really will never be over!

Yogi Berra was not just a run-of- the mill ball player. In 1944, June 6th, he landed on Omaha Beach, well before he ever squatted behind the plate in Yankee Stadium. He stepped up to the plate for our country and won numerous military accolades as a soldier in defense of the US! He was 19 years old!! A little more than two years later, he played in his first game, and of course, homered in his first at bat. His second game, the next day, he homered again! Not bad for an unathletic-looking, 5’8” bowl-legged kid from Italian Hill in St. Louis. Beginning with that game, Yogi Berra shone in the limelight of our great American pastime until his passing a few weeks ago. He was the iconic symbol of the game’s most positive influences and he carried himself with dignity in each job he had while in baseball as well as in his life style. He was a great player, coach, manager, and representative of baseball. He was the embodiment of all the “life lessons” that baseball can teach each and everyone of us. He was under sized and had only an 8th grade education, BUT he competed, outworked, adjusted to failure, and ended up not just living his dream but showing others that it does not matter how big you are or what you did in school that matters most, it is your drive to outwork others, play hard, always do the right thing, and be the best possible member of a team that really is important! KWTP!

Yogi evolved into an American hero, idol, and even a bit of a lexicographer. Hanna and Barbera named their impish yet wonderful Yogi Bear after him(heck, Yogi-ism has become a noted eponym!). However, it was on the ball field that Yogi was the shining star. It is impractical to state all of his accomplishments but a few must be mentioned. He played in 14 World Series and was on the winning side in 10; he was in seven more as coach/manager, and thus he was in 21 of the 34 World Series played between the years of 1947-1981. He holds many Series’ records and was also MVP three(3) times: from 1950-56, he was a 3-time winner, was second twice, and 4th the other year in the MVP voting!! Take a look at some of the players in that era..Joe D, Teddy Ball game, the Mick, the Duke, Hammer, Say Hey, etal…wow!! Yogi’s baseball acumen, the “sixth tool” was his greatest asset. His ability to call a game(includes the perfect-o in ’56) was uncanny, and his propensity to hit almost ANY pitch(he had an ubiquitous strike zone) made him a versatile and valuable teammate. When asked to play in the outfield, he did; despite his snail-like speed he got to the balls and made the plays and at no time did his OF play hurt the team. Lastly, Yogi was in 18 All Star games and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.

Yogi Berra was an American original who arose out of our great American pastime. He was what all ballplayers should be: humble, a good friend and husband, hard-working, versatile, humorous, kind of heart, team-oriented, and a role model for all youngsters to admire. He could take a joke as well as turn a phrase, even if many were malapropisms. Moreover, he believed baseball was for EVERYone!! The hundreds of Yogi-isms , many of which are part of our everyday language, make you smile, and when you think about them, are not as goofy as first thought. His “you can’t hit and think at the same time” is probably the best hitting advice any one can provide! Yogi was just a normal, moral and nice guy, that played ball and will always be remembered for doing it the right way! GAGPTH!

“Thanks Yogi…you were smarter than the average Bear-a!”

THINGS to do in October: TIME FOR EYE EXAM #2! NOW!!! PLEASE do it NOW!!

  1. “You can observe a lot by just watching!”
  2. “Slump?, I ain’t in no slump, I am just not hitting!”
  3. “We are making too many wrong mistakes!”
  4. “Please cut the pizza in 4 pieces, I cannot eat 6!”

And 5. “I never said most of the things that I said!”

Book of the Month: The Yogi Book, Yogi by Ed Fitzgerald, and Yogi Berra, Allen Barra
Movie of the Month: Yogi in the cinema: “Touch of Mink”, “Closers”, “The Great 8s”, “61”…part of the inspiration for “Damn Yankees”!

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