It has the ring of a “Yogi-ism,” those famously fractured expressions of wisdom bestowed upon the world for well more than 50 years by Yogi Berra, the St. Louis kid who grew up at 5447 Elizabeth Avenue on the Hill who went on to national renown.
But Yogi’s adopted home, New York City, seems to have contracted amnesia. It needs to snap out of it.
Yogi had a Hall of Fame career as a catcher for the New York Yankees, a three-time MVP and World Series standout. On the way he became a genuine cultural icon in the Big Apple.
Joe Garagiola, Yogi’s boyhood pal in St. Louis, used to say “Baseball is a funny game.” And everyone knows that Yogi Berra is a funny man — except his longtime manager, Casey Stengel.
"They say he's funny. Well, he has a lovely wife and family, a beautiful home, money in the bank, and he plays golf with millionaires. What's funny about that?”
There’s also nothing funny about a languishing White House petition seeking Presidential Medal of Freedom status for Yogi. The Medal of Freedom is conferred on those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors”.
The “We the People” White House petition program requires that 100,000 signatures be gathered in 30 days for a subject to receive official administration consideration. The Yogi Berra petition is sitting with fewer than 40,000 signatures and less than 72 hours remaining.
New York City must be suffering a lapse of memory or have become preoccupied by trifles, to allow this chance to recognize Yogi to pass.
Cardinal Nation showed its might with the “Stand with Stan” campaign that contributed to Stan Musial’s making the White House visit in 2011 and taking his place alongside Ted Williams, Frank Robinson and Henry Aaron among baseball conferrees of Medal of Freedom honors.
By joining in the White House Yogi Berra petition — now, without delay — St. Louisans could help jog New Yorkers’ memories of a shared favorite son.
Link to petition here.
(Photo courtesy of Shaun Hautly, a resident of the Hill neighborhood.)