Skip to content
Sep 25 / King Kaufman

If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him: Poynter’s 8 lessons from Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra said you could learn a lot by watching. You can also learn a lot by listening and reading.

Roy Peter Clark collected Eight language lessons from Yogi Berra at, and yes, those lessons come from some of Yogi’s malopropisms, which, Clark points out, often have a “stab of truth behind them.”

Sometimes the utterances of Berra, who died this week at 90, were just a little silly. “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded” is my favorite one of those. That’s more of an example of verbal sloppiness than folk wisdom. Berra obviously meant “Nobody I know goes there anymore.” But Clark digging into Yogi’s wit and wisdom shows how fruitful, and just plain interesting, it can be to examine someone’s words closely. An example:

I’m as red as a sheet.”  Yogi said this after he flubbed his movie line in a Cary Grant/Doris Day movie “That Touch of Mink.” Lesson:  It always helps to tweak the predictable.  Who would remember this if he said, “I’m red as a beet” or “white as a sheet.”  So did the blood rush to his face or rush from his face?  In essence, Yogi doubles-down on his embarrassment, reminding us that a mash-up need not be a mix-up.

That reminds me of one of my favorite phrases, which I heard as a kind of Yogi-ism years ago, though not from Yogi Berra. A customer at a shipping counter where I worked, a gregarious Irishman, meant to tell me that whatever choice I was offering him didn’t matter. Either was good.

“Ah, six o’ one, 12 o’ the other,” he said. Not only do I remember that phrase from a meaningless retail encounter decades ago, but I’ve used it myself ever since in place of the banal “Six of one, half a dozen of the other.” I love a nice tweaked cliché, don’t you?

Public domain photo via Wikipedia.

  • Pingback: youth football tournaments | If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him: Poynter’s 8 lessons from Yogi Berra | Youth 5v5 Flag Football Championship Tournaments| Local,Regional and National Events

  • rw

    Yogi Berra wow what a guy . But I bet he couldn’t pick sports like could he man it is almost always right on there ncaa picks . haven’t lost but 1 out 16 picks this season. Im about to do some parlays really quick

  • Zahara de los Atunes

    It always helps to tweak the predictable. Who would remember this if he said, “I’m red as a beet” or “white as a sheet. Marvelous phrase. Visit

  • Roberto Veitia

    I have a trade to make 3 teams winners

    Sacramento sends Orlando sends new York nicks send

    Demarcus Cousins goes to NY Nicks. Nikola Vucevic Sacramento Kristaps Porzingis to Orlando

    Willie Cauley-Stein goes to Orlando magic Tobias Harris Sacramento

    2015 DRAFT PICK goes to Orlando Channing Frye TO NEW York and a2015 first draft pick to Orlando


    Sacramento gets

    Center Nikola Vucevic a double double machine

    a 3 or 4 in Tobias Harris both under 24 years of age

    Orlando get their big four and blocker in

    Willie Cauley-Stein

    Kristaps Porzingis

    and 2 first draft picks one from NYC and one from sacramentro

    New York gets

    The 1 center in the league

    Demarcus Cousins

    and a dead eye stretch forwar 3 point shooter in

    Channing Frye