If you’re a Yankees fan, you’ll love this.
If you’re a Met fan, you’ll love this too.
And if you don’t like New York sports teams with every fiber of your body, you’ll still love Lawrence Peter’s “Yogi” “It Ain’t Over” documentary (It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over) Berra.
Sony Pictures Classics is releasing the doc in the tri-state area and Los Angeles on May 12, but at a recent screening in New York, the doc is delivering what the country needs.
There’s a lot of “Wait! What?” Yogi-isms, but the iconic Hall of Fame Yankee catcher is well represented by a plethora of baseball greats and their ideas.
How many documentaries have a cast that includes Torre, Girardi, Jeter, Mattingly, Guidry, Rivera and Randolph?
There are also interviews with teammates Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Don Larsen, owner Hal Steinbrenner, Hall of Fame reporters Vin Scully, Bob Costas, Claire Smith, comedian Billy Crystal and others.
Berra, the great American quote machine, died in 2015 at the age of 90.
From his St. Louis debut on “The Hill” and opposite future major leaguer Joe Garagiola, Berra the athlete, who didn’t look the part, was born. And he was more than just a ball player.
What people may not know is that Berra was on a naval rocket during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. It was quite tempting to listen to Berra explain the sequence of how the rockets were fired.
“I hope this documentary reminds people that he was probably the best receiver that ever was in the game,” says Suzyn Waldman, who has covered the Yankees since 1987. “What he did and what he meant for the Yankees got lost in the Yogi Berra mythos.
“It’s not just the story of a baseball player that we loved. It’s a story about life in a certain part of this country. He’s downright a war hero. He didn’t waited to be drafted. He enlisted.”
When Berra was injured, he didn’t go for a Purple Heart because he didn’t want to worry his mother. Eventually, he earned it and many other accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2015 from President Obama) and earned his adorable likeness on a US postage stamp (2021).
What brings the film to life, smoothly directed by Sean Mullin and with narration by executive producer Lindsay Berra (his granddaughter), are the stories, the laughs, the old black and white photos and Berra’s film in as a Yankee from a bygone era.
A different time is evidenced by his mask and catcher’s glove that would be ridiculed from today’s game.
No batting gloves, arm guards, helmets or pitch clocks, this was baseball played by an all-time great surrounded by all-time greats. There are photos of teammates DiMaggio and Mantle, Berra shaking hands with Babe Ruth, and a story straight after a World Series game with Jackie Robinson being interviewed standing side by side.
It doesn’t happen today.
“He always made me laugh,” recalls Hall of Fame baseball editor Claire Smith, who covered the Yankees as the first female Major League Baseball editor for the Hartford Courant (1982- 88) and columnist for the New York Times (1991). -98).
Smith was disrespected in the 1984 National League Championship Series after Game 1 between the San Diego Padres and hometown Chicago Cubs. She was kicked out of the Padres clubhouse because she was a woman.
The following match saw commissioner Peter Ueberroth underline the policy that the clubhouse should be open to all journalists. Ironically, Smith had no such issues with Berra.
“The first time I met him was ‘Hi Claire.’ It wasn’t ‘Oh, a woman’ or ‘Oh, a black person’ with that hesitation,” recalls Smith, now a professor and co-director of the Claire Smith Center for Sports Media at Temple University, her alma mater. baseball for 40 years. “It was an immediate respect and welcome and that never changed.”
You can feel it in the doc when Smith notes there wouldn’t be a Jackie Robinson if Berra, Ted Williams and Pee Wee Reese didn’t accept it.
The doc brings up Phil Linz’s famous harmonica incident and yes, there’s Berra’s reaction to Robinson’s flight during the 1955 World Series. Until the day he died, Berra knew he was out.
Even when the images were broken down, frame by frame, he never changed his mind. No yogi-ism necessary. Although many Yankees told him that Robinson was “safe” to piss him off.
Berra was a three-time MVP, 10-time World Series champion (three more as a coach) and 18-time All Star. He managed both the Yankees and the Mets in the World Series Game Sevens only to lose both times.
Willie Randolph was coached and managed by Berra with the Yankees, and he was always able to count on him.
“I never saw him crazy, crazy,” admits Randolph, the former Mets skipper. “For a guy who was as tall as he was in the Yankee tradition, he was very, very down to earth.
“As a leader, he was always behind you and let you do your job. He never seemed to be in panic mode. He became a friend, my coach, my manager. I miss him.”
“He was completely self-aware,” Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Costas said. “He wasn’t just comfortable; he was happy in his own skin. There was no pretense about him.
The movie isn’t all baseball and Yoo-hoos. There’s how Berra dealt with his son Dale’s cocaine addiction, his dismay at the ‘Yogi Bear’ cartoon, the swift firing of George Steinbrenner (by proxy) in 1985 after just 16 games that kept the man away. proud of Yankee Stadium for 14 years.
Waldman never met Berra until 1999, when she brokered peace between him and George Steinbrenner and they settled their differences at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center on the campus of Montclair State University, where he liked to read to children.
There’s Steinbrenner’s apology and Berra’s reconciliation and family life. With three sons, eleven grandchildren and a great-grandchild, his wife Carmen is a star in her own right.
If you learn anything from ‘It Ain’t Over’, it’s that Yogi and Carmen were lovers before, during and after baseball. They were a cute couple from start to finish. Carmen passed away on March 6, 2014, at the age of 85, 18 months before her beloved Yogi.
They had been married for 65 years.
It’s one of those rare documentaries that makes you want to clap with a smile at the end, and you should.
“I don’t know who you compare him to,” Costas wonders. “Maybe that’s what makes it so wonderful. There was no mold…he created it…he broke it.
“He’s in that national treasure category.”
And it’s so fitting that when the documentary’s final credits roll, Lenny Kravitz sings – what else? – “It’s not over until it’s over.”
Whether or not you’ve met Yogi Berra, everyone has a favorite Yogi-ism like “When you get to the fork in the road, take it.”
Here are some of his ditties remembered by his peers and friends.
“On an Old Timer’s Day, they put [recently deceased] the names of the people on the board and Yogi looks at it and says, ‘I hope I don’t see my name up there.’
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“Being a bad ball hitter, he said, ‘Well, if I hit them, I guess they weren’t bad. “”
“Cut my pizza into six (slices) because I don’t think I can eat eight.”
Yogi on a recent movie: “Steve McQueen must have made this movie before he died.”
“Managing the Mets in 1973, when streaks were all the rage nationally, three streaks hit in a spring training game. The next day the Mets play the Yankees and Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle are there as honorary coaches. They ask Yogi what happened. He says [the pitcher] enters his stretch and three streakers cross the infield, they jump over the fence and disappear into the parking lot.
And Mantle said, “Were they male or female?” And Yogi said, ‘I could not tell, they had bags on their heads.’ I thought someone made that up. Fast forward 20 years and I’m at a golf tournament with Yogi and I asked him, “Did you really say that?” and he said, ‘Yes, I did.’ “