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Lindsay Berra: It Ain't Over

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December 31, 2023 12:00 am

Lindsay Berra: It Ain't Over

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

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December 31, 2023 12:00 am

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Join me, 48 Hours correspondent Erin Moriarty, on my podcast, My Life of Crime, as I take on true crime investigations like no other. This season, I'm looking into the labyrinth of crime and secrets within families. I'm cutting straight to the evidence and talking to the people directly involved, including investigators and the families of victims.

Listen to My Life of Crime with Erin Moriarty, wherever you get your podcasts. To have Yogi not included in the Greatest Living Players of 2015, I mean, that makes no sense to me whatsoever. I don't quite understand that. There are only two people with more than 350 home runs and fewer than 500 strikeouts in the whole history of Major League Baseball, and their names are Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. And that is Joe Madden and Marty Opel. Joe Madden, a great manager. Marty Opel, unbelievable insight. He's a PR guy for the Yankees, been around forever. And he really knows just about every Yankee worth knowing, including Yogi Berra. Lindsey Berra's in studio with us now. If you're smart enough to get the stream, you're watching her.

She is the granddaughter of Yogi Berra and executive producer of the new documentary, It Ain't Over. Lindsey, great to see you in person. Great to be here.

Thanks for having me. So what made you realize, did you, you were getting concerned that people were forgetting about your dad and how great he was? Yeah, we opened the documentary at the 2015 All-Star Game and they had a ceremony pregame presenting the four greatest living players. And it was Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax, and Willie Mays. But I was sitting there watching the presentation with my very much alive grandpa Yogi.

And I looked at him and I said, are you dead? And he said, not yet, because while all of those players are amazing and I don't think he should have replaced any of them. He should have been the fifth person out there with 10 World Series Championships, which is more than all four of them combined. But at that point, I hadn't really started about thinking about making a documentary. Grandpa was still with us. He passed away a few months after that. It was a few years later when our producer, Peter Soboloff, he actually saw the Mr. Rogers documentary and wondered why there was not a documentary like that about my grandpa Yogi. And he brought the idea to my dad and uncle. Did you call him Yogi? I called him grandpa. Grandpa, grandpa. So when you watch the documentary, I actually narrate the documentary and it was really hard for me to call him Yogi or Yogi Berra. So I kind of go back and forth between calling him grandpa and calling him Yogi in the doc when the director said we're gonna have to use his name sometimes, Linz.

Understood. So in terms of, did it bother him that he wasn't out there? Did it bother him that sometimes people thought, didn't know what he did on the field because he was such a fun-loving guy?

So my grandfather was very able to let things roll off of his back. When he first broke into the big leagues, they said that, and they, writers, other players said he looked like a gorilla. He looked like an ape. He looked like a fire hydrant. He looked like a fat girl running in a too tight skirt. He was too ugly to be a Yankee. They wrote in the newspaper he was too ugly to be a Yankee. First of all, I don't know what that means. Second of all, if you look at pictures of him when he was young, he was kind of handsome.

So I don't know what they were talking about. He very famously said, I never saw anyone hit with his face. So he didn't really care what other people thought.

I think that's a product of that generation. He went through the D-Day invasion at Normandy. He was a machine gunner on an LCSS going ashore, providing cover fire for our troops at Omaha Beach.

You don't live through an actual life or death situation and come home without some perspective. He was very grateful to be here when so many other men were not. And he really did approach the rest of his life with gratitude for every minute and a profound sense of joy.

The man was playing a kid's game for a living, and that was what he cared about. What personalities from his own block, Joe Garagiola, who ended up being this big personality and hosted the Today Show, he was a catch with the Cardinals. And he said, no one ever thought I was great.

He goes, I wasn't even the best person on my block, cuz I grew up with Yogi Berra. They grew up directly across the street from each other, 54, 47, and 54, 46 Elizabeth Avenue on the hill in St. Louis. And Jack Buck actually grew up down the street. And then there were also five guys from the hill who made the 1950 World Cup soccer team who beat England for the first time. They were such great athletes on the hill. It's crazy, and they all played- What do you mean by hill? What's that? The hill was the Italian section in St. Louis. That is fascinating.

I did not know that. That was the greatest game. Here's Derek Jeter and Roger Angel talking about what kind of person and what kind of player he was, Cup 44. Sometimes a pitcher gives away their pitches to a hitter. If you're paying close attention to the pitcher, he could come down through four for a fastball, come down low for a curveball, you watch him. Then Yogi hits one out in the right field. He hit with power, and the amazing thing was almost never struck out. Because he swung at everything.

That's the key. You can't strike out if you don't get two strikes, right? If you don't get to two strikes, and Yogi swung at everything. He's probably one of the best bad ball hitters there was in the game. That's interesting that Jeter would know that.

Yeah. So grandpa had his feud with Steinbrenner for 14 years and then made up and went back to the ballpark in 1999 and then spent 13 years going to spring trainings. And he really got to be close with Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Tito Martinez, Paul O'Neill, that whole next generation of Yankees. But what they're mentioning there, what Roger Angel says about grandpa abolishing the strike zone, he really never struck out. There's only two players in the history of all of Major League Baseball, not just the Yankees, with more than 350 home runs and fewer than 500 strikeouts.

It's grandpa and Joe DiMaggio. And if you look at his 1950 season, I think it's one of the greatest seasons in the history of baseball. 656 plate appearances. He hit 322 with 28 home runs, 124 RBIs, and struck out 12 times in the entire season. What did managing mean to him? He really loved to mentor younger players. And my uncle Dale, who played for my grandfather with the Yankees, and he played with the Pirates as well. He talks about what a great players manager grandpa was because he cared about the kids, the players, so much as people. You know, if Dave Righetti blew a game or something, grandpa would knock on the hotel room door three hours after the game and, hey, kid, are you all right? I just want to make sure you're feeling OK about tomorrow.

You're going to do great. Like managers don't do that. He really cared about the people, like teaching the game to folks. And, you know, he did that with both the Yankees and the Mets. He was the only the second manager in history to bring teams from both leagues to the World Series. And it was an important part of his career. Was he manager of the Mets in 73? He was. That brought him to the World Series, one win away from beating the Athletics. Yep. To come back like he did. That was a big comeback year, wasn't it?

And that's the origin of his most famous yogism ever. It ain't over till it's over. Right. And then too bad the athletics was so talented. That was a great team. Were you a big baseball fan?

I mean, you could not be in my family. The games were just always on. Grandpa was a fan of all sports. So he got me into ice hockey growing up. I played hockey in high school. How many grandchildren did he have?

Eleven. And did you find yourself more akin to him? Did you feel yourself more attached to him maybe than the others?

I think I was just around him for the most time. My parents also got divorced when I was young, around five. And I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house.

They were kind of like a second set of parents to me. And grandpa and I kind of bonded over a lot of things. He got me into boxing as a young kid. We used to watch fights together. He used to come to all my hockey games in the winter because he was around during the winter because baseball only happens in the summer. He was real into Seinfeld reruns. We'd be up there watching those with him and making meatballs on the holidays and whatnot. He was really involved with all the grandkids. But as the oldest one, I obviously spent the most time.

Well, is it hard to do this and not miss him? Oh my God, absolutely. I'm constantly amazed with how close to the surface the emotions are with regard to both my grandpa Yogi and my Grammy Carmen. And it's such a gift, this movie with all the archival footage and being able to see video. There's not many 45-year-old people who have video of their grandparents in their mid-twenties. And I can see them talking in their mannerisms. He looks just like my brother Larry, which is crazy.

I didn't know my grandpa at the age that my brother is, but they look just alike. And then also just to be able to see that old archival footage in the documentary of grandpa hitting. He used a really big, long, heavy bat, 34-inch, 35- or 36-ounce bat, which is unheard of today. And he wasn't the biggest guy. And you watch him manhandle it through the strike zone and basically do whatever he wants with the ball. It's really cool to be able to watch all that stuff. I mean, his wrists and forearms must have been massive.

Meat hooks. Yeah, that's the way you said it. I should have said that. So, iconically, I never saw him play, but famously when Don Larson tosses the perfect game, Yogi hugs him. Here's Don Larson talking about that, cut 45. Larson is ready, gets the sign. Here strikes ball one, here comes the pitch. Strike three, a no-hitter, a perfect game for Don Larson. Yogi Berra runs out there, he leaps the lesson, and he's swarmed by his teammates.

Look at this crowd roar. So we didn't hear him talk about that, but he does talk about it. What did that mean to him? Grandpa used to say that was a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. And grandpa used to say, it ain't been done before and it ain't been done since.

It's the only one. My favorite little known fact about that game though, my grandmother was watching the game in the stands with Whitey Ford's wife, Joni, and the final batter in that game was Dale Mitchell. And my grandmother is seven months pregnant at the time, and she says to Joni Ford, if we get this batter out and he gets this perfect game, I'll name my baby Dale, and I have an uncle Dale. That is unbelievable.

I remember Dale Berra played third base for the Yankees. Yep. Wow, that's unbelievable. No one probably knew that.

All right, and that was great. Now, Don Larson was a little bit like David Wells, who would also from the same town, I think, and also throw a perfect game. They like to party a little bit. Didn't they have that reputation? They do, and Don actually didn't know he was pitching that game and may or may not have been out a little too late the night before. And when he rolled up to Yankee Stadium, the ball was in his locker and surprise, surprise. But grandpa was able to, that was one of the things that grandpa was known for, being able to get the most out of pitchers and get the most out of their stuff on any given day. And Don says that 97 pitches, he never shook grandpa off once. Wow, that's unbelievable.

Lindsey Barris here. The documentary is now out. It ain't over. When we come back, we're to see it and at what timing we can go over this, right? Sure. Because you put your heart and soul into this. You want everyone to check it out. I do.

Don't move. Brian Kilmeachoe. Ringing in the new year with the best of last year. It's the best of the Brian Kilmeachoe. From the Fox News Podcast Network. I'm Ben Domenech, Fox News contributor and editor of the daily newsletter. And I'm inviting you to join a conversation every week. It's the Ben Domenech Podcast.

Subscribe and listen now by going to Fox News I mean, I'm looking at the video. I think he will say he was out.

He's getting mad at me too, man. I used to go, Oh, yo, he was safe. You know, he was safe. And he's go, Oh, oh, he was out. So that is that is all Yogi Barris friends and teammates and opponents talking about Jackie Robinson, whether he was out or safe.

Set the scene for me, Lindsey Barris. After all, you have a documentary out about your grandfather. It ain't over. So Jackie Robinson stole home in the 1955 World Series and the umpire Bill Summers called him safe. And it's the maddest I've ever seen my grandfather in real life or on video.

He jumped out of his Crouch and I always say he was like rootin tootin mad like Yosemite Sam, the veins popping out of his neck, screaming and yelling at Bill Summers. And, you know, it just, it's become one of the most famous plays in World Series history. Grandpa insisted until the day he died that Jackie had been out. But, you know, Dodgers won that one, right? The Dodgers, they ended up winning that they lost that game actually. But they won that World Series in 55. But I always I kind of like to take the high road on this and say with Jackie Robinson, safer out didn't really matter.

What mattered was that he was in the big leagues. But Grandpa and Jackie were very, very good friends. And the families stayed very close even after Jackie passed in 1972 at Grandpa Yogi's 90th birthday party in 2015. Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow rolled in. And there's a whole bunch of people in the theater at the museum and she sees Grandpa through the crowd and she makes the safe sign with her arms.

And Grandpa makes the out sign with his fist and then she went and gave him a big hug and a big kiss. So we, Veras and Robinsons agree to disagree on that one. That is so interesting. And just to be, you know, to see the polo grounds, I never saw it. I never saw Ebbets Field. Yaggy Stadium still exists.

It just moves across the street as they got rebuilt again. So you're, when they talk about, and I know people are listening around the country now. When they talk about the polo grounds in Ebbets Field, when your grandfather used to talk about, did he talk about the rivalries between the Giants and Dodgers in?

It's funny, people ask me this a lot. And he talked less about the rivalries and more about his friendships with guys on the other teams. You know, he was very, very close with, with Gil Hodges, you know, yeah. And like Roy Campanella and Duke Snyder and, and they were all just buddies. And when, that this shot hit round the world home run, Grandpa was at the game.

Like he was, he would go over there and watch on, on his days off the, the games in, on the, the National League side to know who you would, just kind of to check out who he'd be playing in the World Series. But they would attend each other's games. They would go out to dinners together. So yes, while the rivalry, it was, you know, a great kind of subway series rivalry happening there in New York, they, they were all kind of buddies.

And Lindsay, I never knew that, but you just said that, that blows me away. I thought they might need each other at card shows, but I didn't know they were, when they were contemporaries, they were actually friendly. Back then, Grandpa, Grandpa and my grandmother and my grandma Carmen used to talk about New York being a really small town back then. And if you were a famous person, if you were an actor, a politician, a musician, a famous athlete, there were only like a few places, like high-end places where those kind of folks would hang out. And it was Toots Shores, the 21 Club, the Copa Cabana, the Birdcage Up in Harlem. So you ran into all those folks. You know, my grandfather had a crush on Sophia Loren because he saw Sophia Loren on the regular at, at the 21 Club or wherever the heck they would go. And I remember my grandmother would tell me about eating dinner with Roger Bannister when he was trying to break the four minute mile. It just, it was a smaller town and kind of everybody knew everybody and those friendships existed.

Which brings me to my next question. They needed off-season jobs. They weren't multimillionaires back then. I mean, so he made the most he ever made in one year was?

60,000, but more years it was like 45, 48, 50,000, which is about the equivalent of a half a million dollars today, which is a good living, but it's not like, you know, crazy boku bucks like guys are making. Had to have jobs in the off season. What are some of Yogi Berra's jobs? He sold Christmas trees and I like landscaping type lot on the Hill in St. Louis. He worked at the American shops in Newark selling suits, men's suits. He worked in a hardware store.

He was not good at any of these things. So he and his buddy Phil Rizzuto shortstop for the Yankees in 1958, they opened a bowling alley in Clifton, New Jersey, Rizzuto, Barrow lanes. And that was their off season source of income for, for many years. And did it do well? It did. It did great.

It was there for a while and then it became Astro Bowl in the eighties, I think. But it was like a real family affair. My grandfather's brother John moved from St. Louis to run the bar and Phil's brother actually managed the bowling side of it. Well, that's fantastic.

So you put together this documentary, you guys, you can concern about people forgetting how great your, your grandfather was. Where can we see it in the theaters? So right now it is open in theaters across the country, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco. It's opening in more cities each week throughout the rest of May and June.

So Dallas and Kansas City this weekend, then Denver, all over Florida, Atlanta, Portland, New Orleans. You can hit the website and check the listings near you. How does your uncle and your father feel about them keeping the name alive? I mean, they're all thrilled. My dad and my uncles are all in the movie telling, you know, fantastic stories about grandpa and what it was like growing up with him and, and Grammy Carmen. It's a, it's a really nostalgic film and my whole family's very proud of it. But I do want to make it very clear that while there is a lot of baseball in the movie and it will satisfy the, you know, Uber baseball fan, you don't have to be a baseball fan to see this movie.

As a first generation Italian immigrant, a veteran of the D-Day invasion, grandpa had a beautiful 65 year love story with my Grammy Carmen. There's something in this movie that appeals to everyone as a human story and you really don't have to be like a baseball nut to enjoy it. And the yogisms throughout?

The yogisms throughout, even though I do think that personality and the yogisms overshadowed grandpa's accomplishments on the field, the yogisms are a big part of who he was. And I think the film really highlights the brilliance of the yogisms. If you initially say, oh, that's silly, maybe. But then when you really think about it, they're profound. And I think they are. I love every time I go to see a crowded place, I go, that place is so crowded.

Nobody ever goes there anymore. I think about that. It's deja vu all over again all the time. My favorite is The World Were Perfect. If The World Were Perfect, it wouldn't be. And who can really argue with that? It ain't over. Lindsay Barrett, thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-31 00:24:10 / 2023-12-31 00:33:09 / 9

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