Before athletes were required to have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in addition to their busy schedule of pre-, post- and mid-game interviews, Berra’s prowess with a funny quip and quick soundbite rivaled his skill on the field. Lines like “It’s déjà all over again” have become so ubiquitous that they simply seem to have sprung, fully formed, from the American vernacular.
He knew it, too, and frequently winked in the general direction of his role as baseball’s most quotable personality, including in the subtitle of his 1998 book, I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said.
Here are some of Berra’s best quotes to carry in your day-to-day.
1, When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
In the aforementioned book, Berra attributed this line to a series of directions he once gave to a visiting friend. The blog Quote Investigator found an instance of it in a paper from 1913, but Berra owns the phrase in the popular imagination. It’s great advice.
2. Ninety percent of the game is half mental.
Really, isn’t 90 percent of everything at least half mental?
3. You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you.
I said this to my lunch earlier today. “Petulant but zen” is an odd combination, but this one nails it.
4. Make a game plan and stick to it. Unless it’s not working.
Somewhere in San Francisco, a startup that’s just a verb with a vowel missing (“Smsh,” “Vibr8,” “Crsh”) has this drawn on its insufferable chalkboard or dry-erase wall, right underneath that Beckett quote about failing better.
5. We made too many wrong mistakes.
Everyone knows success is frequently a matter of finding the right mistakes and then making them.
6. Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.
That’s just common sense.
7. All pitchers are liars or crybabies.
I can’t actually verify this, but I’m going to take it on good authority, since Berra knew a lot more about baseball than I do.
8. Even Napoleon had his Watergate.
Remember that the next time you feel down.
9. If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.
This is the kind of earth-shatteringly profound and simple statement that makes stoners drop their bongs at 3 a.m.
10. Take it with a grin of salt.
This can either be a kiss-off or encouragement, depending on how it’s recited. Your mileage may vary.
11. It was impossible to get a conversation going. Everybody was talking too much.
Berra would have killed it on Twitter. Entire publications have said less with many more words.