Much needed dose of Yogi Berra’s wit and wisdom | Brunell

With today’s tension and rancor, we need a dose of Yogi Berra’s wit and wisdom to put things into perspective. Let’s start with “You can observe a lot by just watching” because seeing what is happening now is very disconcerting.

We need less sarcasm and to alleviate the vilification of one another that we constantly witness in the news and on social media. To quote Yogi: “It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.”

Yogi’s humorous way of sizing up a situation would ease tensions. There will always be opposing views and heated debate, which is healthy as long as people don’t personalize differences and value one another. According to Yogi: “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

Yogi Berra was a New York Yankee Baseball Hall of Fame player who is one of our nation’s most quoted philosophers. He was the son of immigrant parents, raised in a St. Louis neighborhood, and worked as a waiter during the off-season to support his family.

Yogi, who only stood 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 185 pounds, was a baseball giant. He was the Yankees’ catcher from 1946-62, playing in 14 World Series and is widely regarded as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 – but you would never know it listening to him.

Berra was considerate and self-effacing. He didn’t have a gaggle of handlers working overtime to find ways to get him publicity. Yogi never sought the spotlight, it always found him.

He maintained a sense of humor even in the most difficult times. During the D-Day Invasion in 1944, Navy Seaman Second Class Berra was on a small rocket boat shelling Nazi positions on Normandy. He learned to handle twin .50-caliber machine guns in heavy seas. “You ever try shooting a machine gun on a 36-footer? You could shoot yourself.”

He was not a wealthy man even though his net worth was $5 million when he died. The Yankees signed Berra for $500 ($7,489 in current dollars) and when he retired his salary was $45,000. He wasn’t in baseball for the money.

Yogi loved the game, his teammates, and baseball fans. In turn, they loved him. At his retirement ceremony, a gracious Yogi Berra said: “I’m a lucky guy and I’m happy to be with the Yankees. And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.”

He treated his opponents with dignity. When asked about Los Angeles Dodger pitching legend Sandy Koufax, Yogi added: “I can see how he (Sandy Koufax) won twenty-five games. What I don’t understand is how he lost five.” Koufax also is in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

He never forgot those who helped him along the way. He credited Bill Dickey, the long-time Yankee catcher, as the coach who taught him the finer points of catching. Yogi replaced Dickey in the lineup in 1946.

While Berra played and managed over a half-century ago, his attributes are ones which still make organizations and leaders successful. Today, too many people have a callous zest for fame and merciless zeal for fortune. That is not healthy for our nation or world.

He would caution: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”

It is not about winning at any cost. How we play the game is important. Common courtesy, respect and understanding builds bridges. We need to know what it is like to walk in another’s shoes.

As Yogi would conclude: “We made too many wrong mistakes.”

Don Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, after over 25 years as its CEO and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at TheBrunells@msn.com.

More in Opinion

Legislature: History, investigations and new laws

The 2019 session of the Legislature included controversy, compromise, surprise, new law and more.

Max fix critical to Washington

Boeing needs to get the 737 back into service – safely and soon

KCLS provides summertime opportunities to read, learn and grow

June is the end of the school year, but it’s the beginning… Continue reading

Gov. Jay Inslee. FILE PHOTO
Governor’s watch: timing is everything

Inslee, possible candidates eye 2020 race

Burgers and fries or trains and rails?

A Sound Transit committee recently removed the Lowe’s/Dick’s site from consideration for… Continue reading

Washington’s big tax bump | Brunell

With the dust settling from the 2019 legislative session, the focus is… Continue reading

State, feds splash and clash over Washington’s water quality

President Donald Trump is ready to give Washington the clean water rules… Continue reading

Washington State Capitol. Photo by Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Interim House speaker takes on challenges of a tough seat

The Frank Chopp era is over. Washington’s longest-serving speaker of the state… Continue reading

New Montana law aims to keep people in their homes | Brunell

Montana’s legislature took the unusual step of exempting older, less-valued mobile homes… Continue reading

Democrats doing a victory lap, but other matters remain unfinished

Democratic lawmakers greeted the end of the 2019 legislative session with warm… Continue reading

KCLS fosters connections with local governments and library advocates

King County Library System fosters connections with local governments and library advocates… Continue reading

E-waste reduction requires innovative approaches

The vast majority of e-waste isn’t handled in an environmentally friendly way