People don’t care how you look, what you sound like, your title or status.
What’s important is how you make them feel.
The person that inspired me to write today’s post is the late great Hall of Fame baseball catcher, Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra. Yogi, who caught for the NY Yankees for 18 years, graduated to heaven at the age of 90 on September 22nd, 2015.
- Played 18 seasons for the NY Yankees and one for the NY Mets
- Played in 18 All Star games
- 10 World Series rings as a player, 3 as a coach.
- 3 times American League Most Valuable Player
- Hit more home runs (358) than any other Yankee catcher
- Managed or coached 26 years
- Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame 1972
- NY Yankees retired his jersey, #8 in 1972
Goes without saying, Berra was a winner and leader, through and through.
Every time he squatted behind home plate, the pitcher and team knew they were in good hands. That’s how he made them feel.
Casey Stengel who managed Yogi for most of his playing career with the NY Yankees and Mets said “I never play without my man.” Berra made Stengel feel he always had a better chance of winning with Yogi as his catcher.
Whitey Ford, the Hall of Fame pitcher who Yogi caught many a games for said “There’s nothing bad you can say about him. Everybody loves him,” Ford said. “DiMaggio and Mantle might have overshadowed him a bit, but everyone knew Yogi was the one guy we really needed on the team.”
Yogi was special and made everyone feel different.
After a long and illustrious career as a player, he was named manager of the Yankees in 1964. He took them to a World Series that year albeit being defeated by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Yogi was fired by the Yankees and hired by the crosstown NY Mets in 1965 where he spent the next 11 seasons as a manager and coach. He helped the Mets become the first expansion team to win a division title, a pennant, and the World Series, winning in their eighth year of existence, in 1969.
Yogi returned to the Bronx Bombers (my favorite team btw) in 1976 as a coach and helped the pinstripes win back to back rings in 1977 and 1978 and an AL Pennant in 1981. Yogi helped instill that winning feeling yet again during a time when the Yankees struggled for many years.
George Steinbrenner, infamous owner of the Yankees, fired manager Billy Martin in 1984 and put Yogi Berra at the helm only to fire him in 1985.
There was a tumultuous falling out between Berra and Steinbrenner so much so that Yogi refused to go back to Yankee Stadium for over a decade.
After 15 long years, Steinbrenner decided enough was enough and visited Yogi at his home in Montclair, NJ to apologize. ”I know I made a mistake by not letting you go personally. It’s the worst mistake I ever made in baseball” Steinbrenner aka “the Boss” said.
Steinbrenner would later go on to say ”If I could get Yogi to come back,” said Steinbrenner, warming to the occasion, ”I’d bring him over with a rickshaw across the George Washington Bridge.” George missed the feeling of having Yogi around.
The Yankees held a “Yogi Berra Day” to welcome back the legendary catcher to Yankee Stadium on July 18, 1999.
When Berra finally made the trek across the George Washington Bridge to “The House That Ruth Built,” he stood beside Don Larsen; the pitcher whose arms he jumped into after catching the only perfect game in a World Series in 1956.
That afternoon, Berra and Larsen would witness Yankees pitcher David Cone throw a perfect game. “Coney” must have had a Yogi feeling.
As Yogi would say,”Deja vu all over again.”
This is one of many Berra quotations, aka Yogi-isms. If you’re not a baseball fan, you’ll probably remember Yogi for his contorted logic lexicon.
Yogi Berra has more quotes in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations than any other athlete or any living president.
Here’s a taste of Yogi-isms:
- “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
- On what makes a good manager – “A good ball club.”
- “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
- “Never answer an anonymous letter.”
- “I’d say he’s done more than that.” — When asked if first baseman Don Mattingly had exceeded expectations for the current season.
- “It ain’t the heat; it’s the humility.”
- “If the fans don’t come out to the ball park, you can’t stop them.”
- “We were overwhelming underdogs.”
- “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”
- “It gets late early out there.” — Referring to the bad sun conditions in left field at the stadium.
- “You can observe a lot by watching.”
- When asked for the time, “Do you mean now?”
- “Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel.”
- “The future ain’t what it use to be.”
- “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
- “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
- “I want to thank you for making this day necessary.”
- “I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early.”
- “I didn’t really say everything I said.”
- “Nobody comes here anymore, its too crowded”
- “Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.”
My favorite Yogi-ism:
“It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Yogi was athletic, transparent, funny, unassuming, humble, and a winner. More importantly, for those who loved and admired him, he made us feel something.
God Bless you Yogi!
Who are you being while in the presence of employees, clients, partners, friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers?
What do you want them to feel?
Photo of Yankee Stadium facade courtesy of Mark.