By John Pierce
Yogi Berra died yesterday at age 90. News of his death has been overshadowed a bit by a visitor from the Vatican.
Timing matters, I guess. Groucho Marx made a similar miscalculation in 1977 when he died near the same time as Elvis.
Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was one of the greatest baseball players ever.
However, he’s best known for his many sayings (and others attributed to him) that befuddled but often communicated quite well. Such as when he said of a popular Manhattan restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”
Yogi was not only an outstanding catcher and hitter, and winsome philosopher. He was a bridge builder.
Jackie Robinson is widely known as the first African American to play in the Major Leagues, joining the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League in 1947. A couple of months later Larry Doby joined the Cleveland Indians, breaking the color barrier in the American League.
Doby experienced many of the same racial taunts and threats faced by Robinson. In all of baseball, Doby said, one of the nicest and most-welcoming persons he met was the Yankees’ young catcher, Yogi Berra.
Their friendship across racial lines grew to include their families — especially after Doby retired to Montclair, N.J., where the Berras lived.
While many players shunned Doby as the league’s first African-American player, Yogi chatted it up with the fellow newcomer. But then, as Doby once noted, “Yogi talked to everybody.”
However, how one treats everybody — yes, everybody — really does matter.
Yogi once said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”
We sure can, Yogi. And we like what we saw in — and heard from — you.
[Photo: A few cards pulled out in remembrance of Yogi Berra, an 18-time All-Star, 10-time World Series champion, three-time league MVP and an inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.]