Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"The Future Ain't What It Used To Be"

The title of this post, "The Future Ain't What It Used To Be," is a quote attributed to Yogi Berra, the famous catcher for the New York Yankees.  He also managed the New York Mets in between his Yankee managing days.  Of course, his managing days followed his playing days.  The years he spent working for a New York ball club spanned from 1946 to 1985.  Playing from `46 until `63.  Managing from `64 until `85.

"The reason I am writing about Yogi is because I just found out he is still alive.  "Yogi Lives!"  Now that would be a great name for a movie.  I should have titled this post "Yogi Lives!" but its too late for that.  I already used the "...future..." quote.  Yogi was a very quotable fellow.  Perhaps he still is.  I just haven't heard anything from or about him for years.  Here is an assortment of my favorite Yogi-isms:

"You can observe a lot by watching"

"Nobody goes there anymore, its too crowded"

"It ain't over til its over"

"It gets late early out here"

"Never answer an anonymous letter"

"I really didn't say everything I said"

"Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours"

...and the oft-quoted...

"Its deja vu all over again"

"When I was small and played pick-up baseball games, this was back in the early 1960's, a ritual was always performed by us before starting a game.  We would state a name of a professional ballplayer who we would be representing.  If your position was outfielder, you claim to be a famous outfielder such as Al Kaline.  I would generally play catcher so if I got to select my doppelganger first I would be Dick Brown.  (Bet you thought I was gonna say Yogi Berra.  Remember, I am from the Detroit Suburbs, and the Tigers were number one on any of our lists.)  Yet sometimes, I was slower than the opposing team's catcher and he would select Dick Brown before I, thus leaving me to choose an alternative.  The number two catcher to be (~in the magnificent City of Center Line~) was Yogi Berra.   For the curious, if Al Kaline was taken, the next best was Rocky Colavito, also a Tiger at the time.  So you did not have to leave the Tiger's for a second choice.  It was just that Yogi was so good.  The Tiger catcher selections were Dick Brown and Mike Roarke, names that go down in history see-sawing back and forth as to which is the more forgettable. (Okay, I realize that Bill Freehan was also a catcher for the Tigers, and he was quite good, but for the purpose of this post, let's put Bill on the back burner and pretend his name was never brought up.)

Our teams never had enough players. We would close out one of the outfields and right field became foul territory.  Both sides together numbered ten players, five on each side.  Nine Tigers and Yogi Berra would composed our roster.  This not only should demonstrate our love for the Tigers, but our respect and admiration  for Yogi Berra.  To further illustrate, a kid would rather be Jake Wood than Mickey Mantle.  Tiger Jake was little more than a base-stealer while Mickey remains one of the most popular Yankees of all time.

So anyway, today I found out that Yogi is still with us at eighty-eight years of age.  I still adhere his advice about life: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

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