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YOGI
Roy Blount Jr.
April 02, 1984
As a reincarnated Yankee skipper, Yogi Berra is working for George Steinbrenner. Is Yogi worried about longevity? No. He knows a managing job, like a ball game, ain't over 'til it's over
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April 02, 1984

Yogi

As a reincarnated Yankee skipper, Yogi Berra is working for George Steinbrenner. Is Yogi worried about longevity? No. He knows a managing job, like a ball game, ain't over 'til it's over

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By dispelling that ignorance of the true self he has realized the Changeless Total Universal Self as his own true form, and through this realization ignorance has been destroyed.
—THE VEDANTASARA a 15th-century Brahmanical text

I'd be pretty dumb if all of a sudden I started being something I'm not.
—YOGI BERRA

The dynastic Yankees of the 1940s, '50s and '60s knew exactly who they were. They weren't a projection of their owner's ego. "In those days, to be a Yankee, in New York," says Berra, who was the Yankees' best or at least, after Mickey Mantle, next-best immortal of the '50s, "you were treated like a god." Yankees were united by aplomb and esprit de corps. Yoga, wrote Jung, is a "method of fusing body and mind together so that they form a unity which is scarcely to be questioned. This unity creates a psychological disposition which makes possible intuitions that transcend consciousness."

Levitate your consciousness to total nothingness.
—YOGI BHAJAN

In baseball, you don't know nothing.
—YOGI BERRA

Anyone who has followed the Yankees over the last 20 years—since 1964, when Berra was fired as manager although New York won a pennant in its first season under him—knows that the franchise has a karma problem: a festering buildup of the consequences of past actions.

"The Yankees made the biggest mistake in their whole career, firing Yogi," says Berra's old teammate Whitey Ford. It took them 12 years to win another pennant, and although they have won four in the last eight seasons, those years have been an Era of Ill Feeling.

"I don't want to play for George Steinbrenner," said star reliever Goose Gossage last December, before he forsook the Yankees for the Padres. Steinbrenner, New York's principal owner since 1973, has fired 11 managers and alienated player after player. It's about as uplifting to go over his wrangles with Billy Martin, whom he fired for the third time after last season, as it is to replay the Watergate tapes. Bad karma accrues when your manager calls your owner a liar or punches out a marshmallow salesman, both of which Martin did. Also when your owner gets into a fight either in an elevator, as Steinbrenner claimed, or with an elevator, as skeptics suggested.

Just this spring training the Yankees' captain, Graig Nettles, decried Steinbrenner's "big mouth" and demanded to be traded. Dave Winfield, New York's best player, who has had various run-ins with Steinbrenner that still rankle on both sides, predicted that 1984 will see more of the same: "Afternoon soaps will have nothing on us. I think people are tired of that. They want to see baseball."

Ah. Yogi is baseball all over. Says his wife, Carmen, "Everything except baseball seems small to him." That "everything" would seem to include himself. There's not much I in Yogi, whom people often call Yog. Perhaps the true meaning of "In baseball, you don't know nothing" is that baseball is a game that humbles those who presume to be authoritative, as Martin and Steinbrenner have done. "Yogi is perfect for this club right now," said pitcher Dave LaRoche in camp this spring. "Billy always wanted to be the center of attention. Yogi is satisfied to be a wallflower type."

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