Sad news Wednesday as the news of the death of long-time New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra died. While I never got to see him in his prime, I do remember the stories which my dad would tell about the stout little catcher from “The Hill”in St. Louis.
Who could imagine – two great baseball prospects – Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra and Joe Garagiola both grew up in this venerable St. Louis neighborhood. Hard to believe the Cardinals thought Garagiola was a better prospect than Berra when they started out.
I had a deep respect for Berra, but not for just his talents as a player. He also closely resembled my three Italian uncles – Robert “Nick” (Hoot), Julio and Orlando “Bucky” Viola – three brothers who served in the military during World War II, all at the same time, all three in Europe. In fact, Uncle Nick served in the “Battle of the Bulge.”
Anyway, I don’t think there was ever a better catcher in the Major Leagues. At least in my mind, the closest to Berra would have been Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds of the 1970’s. But Bench never got 10 World Series titles with his team!
I remember him as the manager of my New York Mets during my high school days and the great memories of the 1973 Fall Classic against the Oakland A’s. Was my first fall away from home at SIU-C, but Yogi and the Mets were the “homesick pill” I needed, even though they didn’t win the series. . . . But they did take it to seven games.
But one of the most unusual things ever – I read Yogi’s autobiography many years ago. Wonderful story, but – all the time I was reading it, I heard Yogi’s voice, like he was reading it to me. And I can assure you, this was no book on tape!
Another weird note – same thing happened when I read Bill Clinton’s autobiography! Wow!
Anyway, to borrow one of his many “Yogi-isms,” “It ain’t over until it’s over. . . .”
You’re right, Yogi. While you may no longer be with us in the flesh and some may think, “it’s over,” you’ll always be a bright star in the memories of millions of fans.
Hope you and your beloved Carmen enjoy a cannoli at a sidewalk cafe in Heaven.
I’m sure it’s his preferred newspaper to read when he is visiting our country, so, You Holiness, Pope Francis, welcome to the United States!
Hope you have a great time while here and we pray for the success of your mission!
From local news sources, it appears our Springfield Diocese will be well represented on the East Coast. Fr. Dan Willenborg of neighboring Nokomis Parish will be in the audience on the lawn of the Capitol, courtesy of Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville.
Hope to get a report from the good Father when he returns.
Jumping all over the place with this column. . .
I’m becoming a little concerned over the numerous commercials about these fantasy football leagues and the gambling which it is perpetuating.
I know, according to the “experts,” it’s not gambling because you create a “pretend team” and you’re are not “betting” on the outcome of a particular game. Sorry – but where I come from, when you “put some money down” on a certain athlete or athletic event, you are betting on it. If you want to look at it as a group of individuals, in my mind, you are selecting several individuals – a team, so to speak – and you are wagering your picks will beat the other guy’s picks.
I don’t think you get your money back if your “group of individuals” doesn’t win. So, in all the sense of the word, you are gambling! These company’s brag about giving away millions of dollars – even billions – to winners.
Like my dad always told me, “Son, they didn’t build those big casinos in Las Vegas by giving away money.”
Okay – that’s it for today. . . .
See you next week!