To like this book, you gotta' really like Yogi Berra a lot...or never heard of him. This is an unusual one. Why would this famed, long-time catcher for the powerhouse New York Yankees, come up with a dime-store-psychologist's book about teams, team practice, team play, teammates, teamwork, "teamness," team ego, team unity? He's played on or managed several major league baseball teams, so nobody disputes he's learned something about it along the way. -But what makes Berra so skilled in "teamwork" beyond all others who could have easily written the same kind of feeble book as this one?
Spot the book's cover, and you see vintage Yogi, all smiley...and holding a (National League yet!) baseball. You quickly figure this book's going to be about Berra's brand of baseball: inside the game, the outside, the players, the stories, what's bad about today's baseball, what's good. But no! He's mostly held his tongue and delivered Baseball Lite.... Now, I don't want to be too hard on him, but Yogi tells us about a myriad of "team" players and managers who, over the years, learned "playing as a team" probably as well as Berra ever did. Was he some kind of standout "teamer"? -Never noticed.
Amid all the "team" clutter, gone are the sharp Berra witticisms, Berra game insight, and his unchecked (sometimes convoluted) commentary that we've come to know and love. -And expect. He settled, instead, for a washed-out book about "team unity." Indeed, the inside skinny on childhood-hero teamwork is not quite what most baseball fans long for.
It's not exactly a sports book, although the setting is clearly baseball. So, it's an easy-reader, but Yogi's overdone it with his mind-numbing, over-use of the word "team" [and all its possible variants!]...along with his never-ending reminders of how wonderful it is to play as a team. Ok already! It's like preaching that rain falls downward -over and over again....
We know! Baseball "teams" win. -Not exactly unheard of. Then maybe this is some kind of motivational business book; but if it is, any veteran company CEO could surely have written a better one. Team this. Team that. Team up. Team down. "Team" is everywhere! In the 1st chapter alone [just 27 small pages], entitled "Team Player," Berra uses the word "team" and its variations 118 times. (!) Who was this book written for? -The fan? Say it ain't so, Yogi....
One bright spot, though, is how the book shakes the mind into images of baseball gone by. Casey, Elston Howard, Bobby Murcer, Phil Rizutto, Mickey and Roger, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Grimm, Gene Mauch, Gil McDougald, Gil Hodges, Bobby Bonds, Clete Boyer, Don Larsen, ... just a handful of the dozens and dozens of big-name, former players and managers mentioned throughout the book. Only Berra does none of these guys or their stories justice, as he recounts lean anecdotes about each of them (and their "teamplay," of course!) in all-too-brief one, two, or at most, three-lines of memories.
-An easy, friendly, non-compelling read that's wide of the plate. -as told to Dave Kaplan? ...for Mr. Berra didn't pen much of this smoothly-written, non-baseball baseball book all by himself. Even the title borders on a counterfeit Yogi-ism, surely thought up by someone else. All in all, his writing "team" should have instead come up with "Yogi Berra's Real Book about Major League Baseball," a classic even CEOs would like.