Recently I found myself using one of Yogi Berra’s “Yogi-isms” when talking to some of my elderly friends. I told them…. “I’m not coming to your funeral, unless you come to mine.”
Being a longtime St. Louis Cardinal fan, I usually don’t make a list of other team’s great players. But if I did, I guess my favorite Yankee player would be Yogi Berra. Perhaps it’s because he’s from St. Louis, lived on the “Hill” across the street from Joe Garagiola, a famous Cardinal and announcer. Yogi was a great player…. a 3 time MVP, he won 10 World Series rings as a player. Although only 5’7” tall, he hit with power…358 career home runs, led the Yankees in RBI’s for 8 seasons…even with Joe DiMaggio and Micky Mantle on the team.
More importantly than all of this, Yogi was a man of integrity. A good Catholic, he was married for 65 years to his wife Carmen who he met in St. Louis. The walls of the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center reflect the values that Yogi both espoused and lived by: loyalty, passion, respect, cooperation, wisdom, service, generosity, selflessness and citizenship. He was awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom.
Yogi’s funeral mass was held at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Montclair, NJ (where our daughter Catherine & Chris Pagano were married) with a eulogy by Joe Torre. Joe said “this American treasure leaves behind a legacy of integrity, kindness, and respect for all”. He really was an American treasure and he lived his life fully until he died at age 90. For Yogi, “his life was not over ‘til it was over”. He finished strong. What a great lesson for us all. There is no retirement from living a life for Christ. We need to live all of our life for God. And one last word from Yogi “ if you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.” Let us keep our eyes on our goal….heaven.