While Yogi Berra’s role in the history of baseball is immeasurable, his ongoing legacy rests also on his enormous contributions to the American language. His so-called Yogi-isms – the unique and witty observations he became famous for – made him a major contributor to the national repository of wisdom, a source cited more often than Shakespeare.
“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
“It’s deja vu all over again.”
- Yogi said arguably his most popular Yogi-ism after Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hit back-to-back home runs during the 1961 season. Both players were vying to beat Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs hit in a single season; Maris would go on to beat it when he hit his 61st home run in the final game of the season.
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
- While giving directions to his best friend Joe Garagiola to his house in Montclair, Yogi told Joe to take the fork. The fork was unique in that no matter which direction you chose, you would end up at Yogi and Carmen’s house.
“I usually take a two hour nap from one to four.”
“Never answer an anonymous letter.”
“I didn’t really say everything I said.”
“I want to thank you for making this day necessary.”
- The first time this famous phrase was uttered was during “Yogi Berra Night” in 1947 in St. Louis, when Yogi was being honored by his fans and friends from The Hill. There’s debate on whether it was day or night, but Yogi couldn’t recall the exact phrasing.
“We made too many wrong mistakes.”
“You can observe a lot by watching.”
“The future ain’t what it used to be.”
“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
- Ruggeri’s restaurant was a hot spot in Yogi’s old neighborhood in St. Louis. While talking with Stan Musial and Joe Garagiola, Yogi came out with this quip about the restaurant.
“It gets late early out there.”
“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
“Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel.”
- Yogi’s teammates often ribbed him about his old luggage. Yogi’s logic was that his bags couldn’t get worse, but theirs could!
“If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark,
nobody’s going to stop them.”
“Pair up in threes.”
“We were overwhelming underdogs.”
- Yogi was talking to famed pitcher Nolan Ryan at the time, reminiscing about the 1969 Amazing Mets.