“It Ain’t Over” is a wonderfully made documentary about a famous old-time baseball player. He is named Lawrence Peter, but that is only his first and middle names. Everybody knows this guy by his nickname – “Yogi” Berra. This was the goofy-looking, hard-slugging, wisdom-spouting player who was a major star in the Major Leagues.
Yogi Berra grew up in St. Louis forming a love for baseball. He was always down at the run-down park playing with his brothers and neighbors. Somebody who lived right across the street was a kid named Joe Garagiola. He also became a valued baseball player when he grew up, too. Young Berra would often wait for hit turn to bat by sitting in the dirt. He would sit cross-legged, like he was some type of spiritual ‘yogi’. So that nickname stuck with him.
Yogi signed a contract with the New York Yankees baseball team. Before he could start playing, he first signed up with the U.S. Navy. Baseball could wait when the U.S. was helping out Europe in World War II. Berra served on a Navy rocket ship during the D-Day attack on the beaches of Normandy. The ship fired rockets and mortars at the enemy positions. That effort prevented Yogi from getting into baseball and breaking records.
But in 1946, when he got out of the military, Yogi Berra went back to the Yankees. His first game was in September of that year. He had played with a minor league team for a few months, but the management say that Yogi had talent – and heart. Berra played as the catcher for the team. He was always on top of the game going on around him because:
“You can observe a lot by watching.”
Yes, Yogi Berra was unrivaled when it came to baseball feats. But also, when it came to feats of twisted language — he was the man at the top of the mountain. His way with words pleased a lot of people, when they were not puzzled about what he was talking about. Such as later when the team Yogi coached was far behind in the standings — he knew they would make a comeback:
“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
Berra played for the Yankees from 1946 to 1963. During that time, the Yankees went on a streak of World Series participation. Yogi was right there besides all the other players, and sometimes with his excellent play — he was one of key players to get them all there. One of the most impressive World Series games was in 1956. Yogi Berra was the catcher for his team mate Don Larsen. Larsen threw an amazing ‘Perfect Game’ in which he allowed no hits for the other side.
“Ninety percent of the game is half mental.”
Yogi Berra had an incredible record in the Big Leagues. He was part of 14 World Series and ten of those were World Series wins (where his team was victorious). Berra was included in All-Star games for 15 years. Yogi made the MVP (Most Valuable Player) slot in the American League, and that was in 1951, 1954, and 1955. In the MVP voting between 1950 and 1957 – Yogi Berra never was below fourth place in the voting.
“It’s déjà vu all over again.”
When Yogi Berra had enough of playing baseball, he still was not done with the game. He retired from the Yankees in 1963, but then he turned around and became the manager. There were some rough times with the team, but they eventually got to the World Series. This time they lost, and Berra was fired. The team just down the street, the New York Mets, snapped up Berra as a coach.
“If you see the fork in the road, take it.”
Yogi Berra was no longer playing, but he was still active. He started as the Mets coach, and after a few years – Berra became the manager. The Mets suddenly went from last place to getting into the World Series. This time they lost, but it was unbelievable that Yogi got the team that far. He bounced around as coach, or manager — for the New York Mets, or Yankees.
“Always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t go to yours.”
Then in 1985, new management at the Yankees decided to give Yogi Berra one more shot at the top rung. Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner, announced that Yogi Berra was going to be the new team manager. Until the team had a rough start and Steinbrenner fired Berra. But not in person, because that was too upright and noble a thing to do. Berra turned his back on the Yankees for close to 15 years.
“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
Yogi Berra had cherished his time with the Yankees. But now it was all in the past. As long as the team was owned by Steinbrenner, Yogi would never set foot into the park. This feud against the owner lasted for a decade and a half. Yankees fans pleaded with Steinbrenner to apologize to Yogi Berra. It finally happened, so that in 1999 – the Yankees held “Yogi Berra Day” at Yankee Stadium.
“Thank you for making this day necessary.”
On that special day, the first pitch was thrown by Don Larsen. Yogi Berra was right there to catch the ball, just like he did for that ‘Perfect Game’ back in 1955. It must have felt right to Yogi Berra to be back in the old familiar stadium. And despite of the odds — July 18, 1999 — at that game in honor of Yogi Berra, with Dan Larsen attending, David Cone of the Yankees pitches a ‘Perfect Game’. It was Perfect.
“I really didn’t say everything I said.”
“It Ain’t Over” is a fun way to learn about a truly unique ballplayer who was underappreciated at the time. People thought that Yogi Berra looked a little funny, he said things that were a little strange, and that he would never amount to much. Yogi loved to prove them all wrong. He became a sailor, a catcher, a slugger, a coach, a manager. But above anything else – he became a legend of Major League Baseball.
It Ain’t Over
Written and Directed by: Sean Mullin
Starring: Yogi Berra, Lindsey Berra, Bob Costas, Billy Crystal, Joe Garagiola, Derek Jeter, Vin Scully, Joe Torre
Music by: Jacques Brautbar
Cinematography by: Lowell A. Meyer, Danny Vecchione, Kenneth Wales
Film Editing by: Julian Robinson
Release Date: May 19, 2023
Length: 1 hour 38 minutes
MPAA rating: PG for smoking, some drug references, language and brief war images
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