Yogi Berra


Yogi was Yogi. He was exactly what you thought he would be if you had ever heard anything about him. We did some PEPSI stuff and THE NEW YORK MIRACLE together. When we did the PEPSI stuff we had a few cool moments. My client had told me that he was a minor league baseball player and I doubted him. I had seen his grip on a bat and told him it was not a professional grip. Norm Larker, a great hitter from the old days, had shown me the proper grip a few years earlier.  We argued about his grip for years. I asked him to show it to Yogi.  Yogi immediately grabbed the bat  and showed the proper grip to him. Yogi’s hands and wrists were incredibly supple. The client was chagrined. Later, when we had finished with Yogi’s bit, Austin asked him if he wanted to go back to his hotel.  Yogi said no.  There were a lot of pretty girls on the set, good food, and nice people. Why should he? I chatted with Yogi a bit and told him that I had worked with Billy Martin a few years back and that Martin was a cool guy. Yogi said that I must have worked with Martin before lunch.

The spot for THE NEW YORK MIRACLE was extremely clever and had an inside joke that few people got. The line was, ‘Who’s that Phil-Harmonic…’ It was a reference to the Phil Linz harmonica incident on the bus when Yogi managed the Yankees in 1964. The Yankees were on a losing streak and Phil Linz was playing a harmonica in the back of the team bus after a loss. Yogi told him to stop. Linz either didn’t hear him or ignored him. Yogi knocked the harmonica away in anger.  It caused a stir and although the Yankees went on to win the pennant, they lost the World Series to the Cards. Yogi was fired after the season and some blame has been put on the harmonica incident. I often wondered if Yogi understood this when he consented to do the spot. I also wondered whether the writer knew or just wrote the pun unintentionally. It doesn’t really matter.