Wednesday, September 30, 2015

R.I.P. Yogi Berra.

Perhaps the most beloved baseball player of all time, Lawrence Peter (“Yogi”) Berra, passed away on September 22, 2015, at the age of 90. 

Among Yogi Berra’s achievements as a player and later manager were:

Ten-Time World Series Champion with the New York Yankees.

Played in more World Series games than any other player in the history of major League Baseball.

Three-Time American League MVP. 
Eighteen-Time All Star. 
Considered to be one of the all-time greatest catchers ever to play the game. 
As a manager, led both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets to a world series. 

Before baseball, he even served aboard an attack transport during the WW II D-Day invasion of France!  

Beyond all that, Yogi Berra was a PERSONALITY loved by all.  His ever-quotable “Yogi-isms” have become a part of our language and culture:

When you come to a fork in the road… take it!

It’s déjà vu all over again!

Nobody goes to that place anymore, it’s too crowded!

It gets late early out here!

And, the most famous one of all:

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over!” 

And, as if even all that wasn’t enough to make Yogi Berra a forever-favorite consider this…

Without Yogi Berra, what would THIS CHARACTER have been called? 

Somehow, an otherworldly-alternate like (oh, say) “Bertram Bear” doesn’t have that same special ring…

It would really hurt, if I were named Bert!  

Rest in Peace, Yogi Berra... and thank you for all the many and diverse things you've given us!


scarecrow33 said...

The one thing that was missing from the tributes I read so far...nobody mentioned the connection to a certain lovable Hanna-Barbera character. There was even a comic strip in which the two Yogis met in Hollywood. Of course, as a kid I thought the ball player took his name from the bear instead of the other way around. Thanks for mentioning that important tie-in.

Joe Torcivia said...


One interesting thing I notice, being both a sports fan and a fan of comics and animation, is that rarely do the two areas of interest overlap.

So, as has been your own experience, I found not a single reference to the naming of “Yogi Bear” after “Yogi Berra” in any of the obits and tributes I’ve read… except this one, of course!

I also know my own audience, and know this would be more than worthy of mention – as it would be to me.

Sergio Goncalves said...

Actually, I have seen a couple of obits that not only mention it but actually claim Yogi Berra sued H-B over Yogi Bear. Here is one:

Fortunately for us those of us who like both Yogis, it seems that that is actually not true.

Which propmts me to raise an age-old question: Do you think H-B purposely named Yogi Bear after Yogi Berra?

Joe Barbera denied it, and while he had a penchant for embellishing stories to make them more interesting, for some reason I'm inclined to believe Barbera on this one. To me, it seems plausible that the name "Yogi Bear" just unconsciously "sounded right" to Barbera without it immediately being apparent why (though it must have become apparent pretty quickly).

In any case, except to set the record straight, it doesn't really matter. Both Yogis are great fun. RIP Yogi Berra.

Joe Torcivia said...


Given that virtually every early Hanna-Barbera character had its roots in some aspect of pop culture, it’s impossible for me to believe that Yogi Bear was not named after Yogi Berra.

Lots of folks who stop by this Blog tend to be creatively minded, or so inclined, in one way or another. Would any of you just look at a sketch of that character and spontaneously think “Yogi Bear”, if there were no Yogi Berra? I seriously doubt it!

…And, yes… Both “Yogis” are indeed “great fun”!

Sergio Goncalves said...

I think we may have to agree to disagree, Joe. We know Yogi Bear was largely inspired by Art Carney. And as Barbera said, "Yogi Bear doesn't play baseball, and Yogi Berra was not passionate about pic-a-nic baskets." Think of the Alfy Gator-Alfred Hitchcock connection, or the Snagglepuss-Bert Lahr connection. Both are far stronger than the Yogi Bear-Yogi Berra connection. And then there's the fact that Joe Barbera very strongly identified with Yogi Bear. He would constantly draw the bear, even on restaurant napkins. His license plate "number" was "YOGI BEAR." They have very similar personalities; some have said that Yogi Bear is Barbera's alter-ego and Fred Flintstone is Bill Hanna's alter-ego. So, I still think Yogi Berra was not the foremost person on Barbera's mind when he created Yogi Bear. The similarities to Carney and to Barbera himself are more evident.

Now, here's where we agree: Nobody would look at a sketch of the character and think "Yogi Bear," if not for Yogi Berra. There's no way anyone would have thought of naming the character "Yogi Bear" if Yogi Berra had never existed.

I think the well-known, well-liked name "Yogi Berra" is the reason why "Yogi Bear" "sounded right." That doesn't necessarily mean the choice was a conscious nod to Berra. It doesn't necessarily mean whoever came up with the name was thinking about Yogi Berra at the time. But the sound of the name was surely in the back of their mind -- thanks to Yogi Berra.

Again, of course, I don't know. You may well be right; I may well be wrong.

Joe Torcivia said...


I’d say the truth (whatever that may be) lies SOMEWHERE within these comments, regardless of which one of us may be closer to it. …And, I don’t feel we’re all that far apart, actually.

And, the creative process, however that might be defined, is different in everyone. So, we will never truly know how Yogi Bear acquired his name. I’m just glad he did, because it’s a name and a character that has provided me with untold joy over the years.