Plato, Aristotle, Confucius. They are perhaps the best known philosophers. Confucius was, without a doubt, the most humorous of the bunch. At least, that’s what I thought as a kid. My brothers often told me things he said. Like, “Confucius say…friend is someone who thinks you’re a good egg even though you’re slightly cracked.”
One of my favorite philosophers died September 22, 2015 at the age of 90. He was the immensely quotable Yogi Berra. “Always go to other people’s funerals,” said Yogi, “otherwise they won’t go to yours.” And when he died, they came in droves. Berra was a stocky 5 foot 8 inches tall. He wouldn’t have done well in basketball. One baseball writer quipped: “If he were a piece of furniture, you’d sand him.” “He isn’t much to look at,” said long-time manager Casey Stengel, “he looks like he’s doing everything wrong, but he can hit.” And could he ever.
Berra was baseball’s Lord of the Rings. He reached the World Series 14 times, winning it 10 times. Yet he was even more famous for his “Yogi-isms”—quotes that contained humour and wisdom, like, “You can observe a lot by watching.” “Baseball,” he said, “is 90% mental. The other half is physical.” Asked about losing a ball game, Yogi said, “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
In 1949, Berra married Carmen Short. They had three sons, all of them professional athletes. They celebrated 65 years of marriage before she passed away in 2014.
I love Yogi-isms, but the wisest list of quotes ever compiled was written by King Solomon and called Proverbs. They ring true while often making me smile. One of my favorites is Proverbs 20:7, “A good and honest life is a blessed memorial.”
When Yogi Berra attended an opening day ceremony in 2003, he watched as the scoreboard displayed the names of former Yankees who had died in the off-season, turned to ex-teammate Whitey Ford, and said: “Boy, I hope I never see my name up there.”
He once said that what seemed wisest to him was “to love his family and thank God…” That’s not a bad epitaph. “He loved others. He thanked God.”
Yogi also said, “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.” But I predict that if we live that way today, we will leave a blessed memorial.
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