Even if you are not a baseball fan, Yogi Berra’s colorful expressions of twisted logic probably have a place in your memory. His “déjà vu all over again,” which brought laughter when he originated it, has become stale from the many repetitions. A couple I enjoyed were “Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hitting,” and “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.” Any number of sources will take you to his life as a ball player and manager and those Yogi-isms. His son Dale Berra in My Dad, Yogi, with contributions from his brothers and daughter, takes you behind the scenes to see the patriarch of the Berra family.
My interest in the book offered by Net Galley in an advance reading copy came from years of listening to the radio as my father followed his favorite team, the New York Yankees. I never figured out how this Mississippi country preacher formed this loyalty, but he was a Yogi fan and loved his picturesque expressions. Dale does not skip over these or the baseball in his father’s life and his own, but he goes beyond to see Yogi the man and particularly the father.
An unassuming family life with his strong beloved wife Carmen and their three sons in New Jersey had a normalcy to it in the off seasons with the sons following their father into baseball as they matured. Names like Joe Garagiola, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Whitey Ford were friends rather than celebrities to the family. Dale’s drug problems in the midst of a promising career threw a curve ball into the mix with Yogi providing support with a tough love intervention that helped him turn his life around.
My favorite new Yogism came as Yogi attended more than a few funerals, “You should always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise, they won’t come to yours.” I’m thinking the fact that his funeral was well attended had more to do with the lovable man than to his attendance at other burials.
The book is a good read for baseball fans (or their daughters) but also for those who are interested in the family dynamics of people who live celebrity lives or those who need to help a child entrapped in addiction. Speedreading through the baseball accounts is an option for those who are not fans.