Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » May 2005 » Happy Birthday!

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05/12/2005: Happy Birthday!

My fellow St. Louis native Lawrence Peter Berra turns 80 today.

Name doesn't ring a bell? You know him better as "Yogi".

Cardinals fans like to give well deserved crap to Cubs fans for the famous trade that sent Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz, and Doug Clemens to the Cubs in return for one Lou Brock (actually, the Cards also got Jack Spring and Paul Toth in that trade as well, but whenever you say "Jack Spring" or "Paul Toth" to any but the most obsessed of baseball fans, the most likely response is "who?"). However back in 1943 the Cardinals made offers to two amateur catchers, both of whom were native St. Louisans from the Italian enclave known and loved in St. Louis as "The Hill". The Cards offered one a signing bonus, while they offered the other one a straight contract with no signing bonus. The one who got the bonus was Joe Garagiola. Yogi, who was the one who didn't get a signing bonus, was so miffed by the Cardinals' snub that he signed with the New York Yankees. Now, one of those catchers is in the Hall of Fame, and the other one isn't. Hint: the Hall of Famer isn't Joe.

It's not one of the high points in the history of Cardinals player development.

Yogi is, of course, also known for his wonderful facility with the English language, which has resulted in some of the most memorable quotes known to baseball, or to collectors of quotations. The only trouble for the collector of "Yogiisms", as they are known, is that, as observed by The Master Himself:

I never said most of the things I said.
Basically, Yogi's way of expressing himself, while characteristic and amusing, was also very easily imitated, and it's an open secret that many sportswriters weren't beyond making up a few Yogiisms when they wanted to spice up their stories. So you have to take any listing of Yogi Berra quotes with a pretty large grain of salt; it's never clear which ones are legitimate Yogiisms and which are fabricated.

A few of my favorite Yogiisms (and I'm not necessarily vouching for their authenticity, but all of these have been credited to Yogi at some time):
A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.

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

Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.

I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.

Half the lies they tell about me aren't true.

He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious.

I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary.
[At "Yogi Berra Appreciation Day" at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, 1947]

I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.

If people don't want to come out to the ball park, nobody's gonna stop 'em. [
In a somewhat similar vein, Yogi once gave a capsule review of a New York restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."]

We have deep depth.

You wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you.
And, of course, I can't forget the one that I'm sure was manufactured specifically for the ad that runs when AFLAC sponsors a MLB game:
And they pay you cash, which is just as good as money.
I think it says something about the regard that baseball fans have for Yogi, that this commercial is still running in its the third straight baseball season.

Yes, I've double posted this one here and at The Birdwatch. I like it that much, and I'm the author (and copyright holder). So there. :-)

Len on 05.12.05 @ 12:37 PM CST

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