Sunday, September 27, 2015

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

As one gets older, one notices it when people die. One occasionally goes online to scan the obituaries in the old hometown newspaper. At first, it’s mostly older people whose names you recognize. An old teacher or coach. The grandparent or parent of someone with whom you grew up. The neighbor down the street. And then people closer to your age start popping up and it reminds you that time marches on and death awaits us all.

When famous people die it’s news. Mostly I don’t pay much attention and it sort of puts me off when some of these “famous” people get so much attention for doing so little. The passing of athletes, actors or musicians usually garner more headlines than those of educators, scientists, business leaders, great writers, theologians and, yes even politicians whose contributions may be so much greater.

So when an old baseball player passes away, I may take note, but then move on. Usually. Not so much with the passing of Yogi Berra. He was more than just a great baseball player and a successful baseball manager. He was more than just a bunch of great quotes that will continue to live on in our culture. To me he represented the baseball world I grew up in. He was toward the end of his career when I really started following the game. He was the same age as my father. Like my father, he was a WWII combat veteran. But unlike my father, he had found his passion and was good at what he did. Growing up in the Depression and going off to war did not break Yogi as it had others, including my father.

While as kids we may have dreamed of being the next Mickey Mantle, as adults we came to respect guys like Yogi Berra. Guys who stayed with the game and respected the game. The steady guys who were dependable. The guys who could mix humor and humility in a way that players and fans could appreciate. Not heroic figures with leading man good looks. Just average Joe’s who showed up every day and did their job. His kind will not soon pass this way again.

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