Jerry Summers: Lawrence To Yogi

  • Monday, February 12, 2024
  • Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

The image of Lawrence “Yogi” Berra (1925-2020) as a not very good looking, short, and English authority on “cliches” is offset by his Hall of Fame record in Major League Baseball as a player, manager, and coach for the New York Yankees and New York Mets. Those traits are supplemented by his business successes, philanthropy, and by being a devoted family man as a husband and father. His hundreds of funny phrases were previously reported in an article dated July 31, 2023.

In a subsequent book “When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It” (2001- Hyperion Press, New York) co-authored with Dave Kaplan Yogi follows up forty (40) of his funny phrases with chapters of inspiration and wisdom that follow his life's journey.

As a self described “movie nut” he explains how Lawrence Berra became Yogi Berra under the chapter heading “I Love Movies When I Like Them.” He reveals the origin of the nickname that would follow him from his childhood days, and to Cooperstown (1972) and beyond until his death in 2015:

“If not for the movies, I'd never have gotten the name Yogi. My friend saw a travelogue about India and one of the people in it was a Hindu fakir, a yogi, who was meditating. Because I used to sit with my arms folded and legs crossed, my buddies said I looked like the yogi in the movie. I loved westerns, adventures, dramas, comedies, you name it. I was a big Greer Garson fan and really loved the Marx Brothers; when I was 21 and playing for New York, I saw A Night in Casablanca in all eight cities of the International League.”

Fortunately, the history of the story on his life in Yogi's post baseball career are preserved at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, New Jersey. The mission of the facility “is to preserve and promote the values of perseverance, respect, sportsmanship and excellence through inclusive, culturally diverse sports, educational programs and exhibits.”

(If he was still alive, and the proposed new baseball stadium becomes a reality, Yogi Berra would be a great Opening Day participant.)

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You can reach Jerry Summers at

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