Yogi BerraYogi Berra died Tuesday at age 90. His obituaries should be and are fulsome, but most focus on what I call Yogi the Legend, the lovable author of malaprop quips, some of which he actually said.
That's fine. A society without legends is no society at all, and Berra embodied one of the oldest legends in anthropology and history -- the Wise Fool. No legends like that will come out of any sport but baseball, where foolishness is an integral part of its culture.
But I prefer to focus on Berra the Reality, Berra the Ballplayer, the reason Yogi became a public figure in the first place. And to do so, I ask anyone reading this to do me a favor.
Go to baseballreference.com right now and look up Berra's career. Study those numbers, paying particular attention to how he finished in the MVP voting from 1950-1956. They will tell you better than my words ever could just how unbelievable a player Berra was. His claim to be the best catcher in baseball history is as good as anyone's. Bill Dickey's, Johnny Bench's, Mike Piazza's, you name 'em.
Quite a life, when that's not the first thing the world puts in your obituary.