Yogi Berra won 10 World Series rings and was a war hero, but most people remember the things he said. His “Yogisms,” as they were known, took cliches and turned them on their heads until they were fun-house-mirror reflections of themselves, yet they still made a certain fractured sense. This was his genius.

Here are his best ones.

(Quotes taken from various sources, many from this fantastic 1984 Sports Illustrated profile by Roy Blount Jr.)

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

— Self-explanatory.

“Nobody ever goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

— According to Blount’s research, Yogi was not the first person to use this quote. It appeared in a New Yorker story in 1943, when Yogi was 18 and playing minor league ball in Norfolk. Still, he made it famous. We’re including it here.

“He must have made that before he died.”

— Talking about how he watched a Steve McQueen movie on television after the actor’s death in 1980.

“Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hitting.”

— During a particularly rough stretch at the plate.

“You mean right now?”

— Yogi, when asked what time it was.

“If I didn’t wake up, I’d still be sleeping.”

— Well, obviously.

“It’s nothing but rooms.”

— Yogi, describing his enormous house in Montclair, N.J.

“If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.”

— Yogi’s ground rule for radio interviews.

“How long have you known me, Jack? And you still don’t know how to spell my name.”

— Yogi to announcer Jack Buck after he paid the Yankees catcher for a pregame show appearance with a check made out to “Bearer.”

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

— Indeed.

“Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”

— Yogi math.



This doesn’t quite fit into our ranking of the famous Yogisims, but it’s pertinent considering Pope Francis’s visit to the United States. Taken from Blount’s Sports Illustrated story.:

Yogi told of his meeting with Pope John XXIII in a now-famous interview:
Reporter: “I understand you had an audience with the Pope.”
Yogi: “No, but I saw him.”
Reporter: “Did you get to talk to him?”
Yogi: “I sure did. We had a nice little chat.”
Reporter: “What did he say?”
Yogi: “You know, he must read the papers a lot, because he said, ‘Hello, Yogi.’ ”
Reporter: “And what did you say?”
Yogi: “I said, ‘Hello, Pope.’ “