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But not wholly laissez-faire. "Before, we had a Broadway clubhouse in here, all kinds of extraneous people," says Smalley. "Yogi says no visitors except family, and them only at certain times. I asked if I could bring in Bob James, the jazz pianist. Yogi said he'd go out and meet him, he'd give him a hat, but not in the clubhouse. I respected that."
"Everybody likes Yogi," said Steinbrenner when he announced Yogi's appointment, "and...respects him." The pause was just long enough to make the "respects" sound grudging. When I try to imagine how Berra and Steinbrenner will relate to one another, I can't shake the unpleasant image of a TV commercial for a New York radio station that Steinbrenner and several uniformed Yankees appeared in a few years ago. When Yogi, who was then a coach, began to say something in this commercial, Steinbrenner glared and snapped, "Just sing, Yogi." Yogi smiled, sang and gave no indication that heavy condescension bothered him. Self-control.
"To say that I don't have any worries or nerves is the opposite of the truth," Berra said in his 1961 autobiography, Yogi, written with the aid of Ed Fitzgerald. "I worry about getting old, I worry about not getting around on the fastball...."
Indeed, when Tony Cloninger struck him out three times on fastballs one May day in 1965, Yogi immediately retired as a player. "I didn't go out there to be embarrassed," he says.
"I worry," he went on in the book, "about keeping Carm happy so she won't be sorry she married me, about the kids growing up good, and about keeping out of trouble with God. I worry a lot."
He has always had trouble sleeping on the road. In his playing days his insomnia exhausted many of his roommates, including Rizzuto, from whom Berra often demanded bedtime stories. "Three Little Pigs, Three Bears, anything like that," Rizzuto says. "He said the sound of my voice put him to sleep. I often thought of that when I started broadcasting."
"Relaxed?" says Carmen. "I don't know why people think he's so relaxed. He's a basket case!"
But it's a well-woven basket. "Some men are kind of hanging in the balance," Carmen says. "It seems like they just might go off the deep end any minute. I don't have to worry that Yogi is going to have a nervous breakdown.
"I look around at our friends. The men are heads of some of the biggest corporations, they're members of the biggest law firms. And Yogi is the envy of all of them. Since Day One, I saw that Yogi was the only man I knew who loved his job."
That in itself, of course, doesn't make him a true yogi. "I am a yogi because it is in your mind," says the Yogi Bhajan. "The problem with man," the Yogi Bhajan also says, "is that he is asked, 'Are you this or are you that?' But you are not this nor that, you are as you are." Yogi Berra has said quite a few things more thought-provoking than that.