Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball's Greatest Gift

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Overview

“How would you like to hang out with Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry during spring training? Funny and sweet, Driving Mr. Yogi transports you there.” — Jim Bouton , author of Ball Four

It happens every spring. Yankees pitching great Ron Guidry arrives at the Tampa airport to pick up Hall of Fame catcher and national treasure Yogi Berra. Guidry drives him to the ballpark. They watch the young players. They talk shop. They eat dinner together and tease each other mercilessly. They trade...

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Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball's Greatest Gift

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Overview

“How would you like to hang out with Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry during spring training? Funny and sweet, Driving Mr. Yogi transports you there.” — Jim Bouton , author of Ball Four

It happens every spring. Yankees pitching great Ron Guidry arrives at the Tampa airport to pick up Hall of Fame catcher and national treasure Yogi Berra. Guidry drives him to the ballpark. They watch the young players. They talk shop. They eat dinner together and tease each other mercilessly. They trade stories about the greats they have met along the way. And the next day they do the same thing all over again.

As every former ballplayer can appreciate, in that routine, every spring, there emerges a certain magic.

Driving Mr. Yogi is the story of how a unique friendship between a pitcher and catcher is renewed every year. It began in 1999, when Berra was reunited with the Yankees after a long self-exile, the result of being unceremoniously fired by George Steinbrenner fourteen years before. A reconciliation between Berra and the Boss meant that Berra would attend spring training again. Guidry befriended "Mr. Yogi" instantly. After all, Berra had been a mentor in the clubhouse back when Guidry was pitching for the Yankees. Guidry knew the young players would benefit greatly from Mr. Yogi's encyclopedic knowledge of the game, just as Guidry had during his playing days. So he encouraged him to share his insights. Soon, an offhand batting tip from Mr. Yogi turned Nick Swisher's season around. Stories about handling a hitter like Ted Williams or catching Don Larsen's perfect game captured their imaginations. And in Yogi, Guidry found not just an elder companion or source of amusement – he found a best friend.
At turns tender, at turns laugh-out-loud funny, and teeming with unforgettable baseball yarns that span more than fifty years, Driving Mr. Yogi is a universal story about the importance of wisdom being passed from one generation to the next, as well as a reminder that time is what we make of it and compassion never gets old.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

If Yogi Berra hadn't existed, he probably would have been invented by journalists. (In small ways, he was: A few Yogisms were actually concocted by reporters, not by the master of malapropisms himself.) Fortunately, Driving Mr. Yogi delivers bona fide Berra, not a merely amusing imitation. New York Times columnist and author Harvey Araton (When the Garden Was Eden; Dollar Bill) illuminates the engaging personality and long career of the Hall of Fame player and manager by focusing on 1999 Berra's return to the Yankee spring training camp after a 14-year self-imposed exile. Thanks to Araton's storytelling skills, this portrait blends sweet nostalgia, fascinating Bronx Bomber history and gossip, and humorous stories that are worth repeating. Berra's fellow Hall of Famer Ron Guidry plays a welcome role in several of these anecdotes.

Lisa Echenthal

Publishers Weekly
Ron Guidry got to know Yogi Berra, the beloved baseball legend and notable quotable, in 1977, when he was a curious young ace pitcher for the New York Yankees and Berra was a venerable coach with answers. When Berra joined the Yankees as a spring training instructor in 2000, Guidry volunteered to pick up Berra, eventually becoming his valet and companion during their monthlong stay in Florida. That annual arrangement has bloomed into a deep friendship. Guidry calls Berra his best friend, and as his former mentor approaches 90, Guidry has become a guardian and protector. Berra cares for Guidry, though he’s loath to say that. “He doesn’t want to be treated like a superstar or a celebrity,” says Kevin McLaughlin, a Berra family friend. “He wants his friends to bust his balls. He loves it. And nobody does it better than .” Araton (When the Garden Was Eden) deftly and tenderly traces the odd couple’s rapport, which involves an assist from late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whose apology to an angry Berra ended his long exile from the venerable organization. More than a portrait of two unlikely pals, Araton has fashioned a tribute to the days when teams could be considered families, rather than a collection of constantly changing faces. The book should soothe the soul of the most cynical sports fan. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Harkens back to an era when ball players were teammates because of the uniform they wore, not the games they played. Driving Mr. Yogi is as sweet as the unlikely friendship between Berra and his designated chauffeur Ron "Gator" Guidry who, along with author Harvey Araton, handles this precious baseball cargo with requisite TLC."—Jane Leavy, bestselling author of The Last Boy and Sandy Koufax

"Hop in, sit back and enjoy the ride with Yogi and Gator. With grace and humor, Harvey Araton makes certain it will put a smile on your face."—Tom Verducci, bestselling author (with Joe Torre) of The Yankee Years

"In Driving Mr. Yogi, one of America's finest sportswriters writes about the magical relationship. Any baseball fan would love to be at spring training, sun shining, smell of mowed grass in the air, and just listen to the stories of those two wonderful men. Harvey Araton lets us do just that."—Joe Posnanski, author of The Machine and The Soul of Baseball

"How would you like to hang out with Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry during spring training? Funny and sweet, Driving Mr. Yogi transports you there."—Jim Bouton, former major league player and author of Ball Four

"Among the most thoughtful journalists of his time, Harvey Araton delivers one of baseball's greatest stories never told in this poetic tribute to the relationship shared by Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry. A must read for anyone who cares about baseball, loyalty, and love."—Ian O'Connor, New York Times bestselling author of The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter and Arnie & Jack

"Spending time with Yogi Berra is a unique pleasure, as Ron Guidry, a special guy himself, can attest. Now thanks to Harvey Araton's delightful book you, too, can get to know one of the world's great treasures and revel in a remarkable relationship."—Tim McCarver, sportscaster, Fox Sports

Library Journal
Veteran sportswriter Araton (columnist, New York Times; When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks) provides a well-rounded portrait of the lovable and legendary Yogi Berra by using Berra's return to Yankee spring training in Tampa, ever since 1999, as his framing device. Many revealing and often humorous anecdotes feature Ron Guidry, fellow Yankee Hall of Famer, assigned to chaperone Berra around Tampa every year. There are also numerous anecdotes about Berra with his wife, Carmen. Araton recounts Berra's long baseball career, his 14-year self-exile from the Yankees, and his complex relationship with late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. A few new "Yogi-isms" are a nice bonus in this entertaining and informative volume. Recommended to all baseball fans, especially those interested in the traditions, conflicts, and multigenerational bonds within the "Yankee family" and Berra's patriarchal franchise role.—D.K.
Kirkus Reviews
An exploration and celebration of deep friendship under the cloak of a baseball book. Other than starring in Yankee pinstripes, though not at the same time, Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry wouldn't seem to have much in common. The Hall of Fame catcher from the Italian ghetto of St. Louis and the pitcher young enough to be his son, from the Cajun swamp country of Louisiana, might not even seem to speak the same language, unless that language was baseball. Yet baseball isn't the focus of this book about the transgenerational bond forged by the two men, a story that germinated in a New York Times spring-training column written last year by Araton (When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks, 2011, etc.). It's the story of a younger player and the idol who became his best friend. There is no talk of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, nor of salaries exponentially inflated since the two played. There is little about games that mattered, since much of the book concerns the spring training rituals that annually reunite the two. It's also the story of two genuinely likable, admirable athletes, though the nuanced portrait of Berra is pricklier than the cuddly caricature so often depicted. He adheres strictly to routines, from a rigid schedule to his rotation of restaurants and the meals he orders there. Guidry understands Berra well enough to know when to poke fun at him and when to protect him from the attention he most certainly doesn't crave. Other indelible characters play a part--including George Steinbrenner, whose alienation of Berra and reconciliation with him proved key in the lives of both--but this is mainly the story of two buddies and the sport over which they have bonded. A well-told tale if friendship with baseball as the backdrop.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544002272
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/5/2013
  • Pages: 234
  • Sales rank: 251,548
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Harvey Araton joined the New York Times as a sports reporter and national basketball columnist in 1991 and became a "Sports of the Times" columnist in 1994. He is the author of numerous books, including most recently, When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the Old Knicks . His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, ESPN The Magazine, Sport, Tennis, and Basketball Weekly. Born in New York City in 1952, he is a 1975 graduate of the City University of New York. Araton lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

The one thing Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry have most in common and is obvious to everyone is that they are so unaffected by fame that you have to wonder if they even know that they were great players.
—Goose Gossage

Morning in Florida usually put Yogi Berra in the best of moods, but Ron Guidry could see right away that his old friend was cranky, not his usual sprightly self.
   Normally Berra would be waiting for Guidry in front of his hotel, smiling and waving at the many well-wishers and fans until his ride to the park pulled up to the curb. But not this day. Not this time. As Guidry approached, Berra was pacing, and Guidry could hear him through the open passenger side window mumbling under his breath: “Goddamn, son of a . . .”
   Guidry checked his watch to see if he was late—which was one of the few things that always made Berra grumpy—but, no, he was actually a few minutes early. He leaned across the seat and pushed open the door.
   As Berra climbed into the truck, Guidry said, “Yogi, what’s the problem?”
   “Ah, I just found that I got to fly to LA Friday morning,” Berra said.
   “LA?” Guidry said. “What the hell for?”
   Guidry pulled away from the hotel, out into traffic, on the way to the Yankees’ spring training complex.
   Berra complained, “I got to make an affliction commercial.”
   Guidry looked at him with bemusement, thinking, Is he doing something with some kind of hospital?
   “You know,” Berra said, “with that goddamn duck.”
   And then it struck Guidry what Berra was talking about.
   “You mean the Aflac commercial?” he said.
   “Yeah,” Berra growled, “that damn duck.”
   Guidry burst out laughing, couldn’t stop, to the point where he had to pull over to the side of the road. He sat there for a minute, practically doubled over, reddened face against the wheel.
   And then, out of the corner of his eye, he looked over at Berra, who was laughing at himself, suddenly in on his own joke.
   Guidry shook his head and thought, Anytime you can share a laugh like this with this man, it’s a great moment.

1

The Pickup

on Guidry steered his white Ford F-150 pickup with the NEW YORK YANKEES plates to the curb of the Continental Airlines arrivals area at Tampa International Airport. He pushed open the driver’s side door, stood up, and looked around for the airport traffic attendant. He hoped it would be the same sympathetic fellow he had encountered the previous year.
   “Can I help you?” the guy had said when he’d noticed Guidry looking around uneasily.
   “Yeah, I’m waiting for a highly valued package,” Guidry had replied. “Are you a baseball fan?”
   The attendant had said no, not really. But when Guidry had told him who he had come to pick up—“I’m waiting for a little dude by the name of Berra”—he had gotten the thoroughly predictable response.
   The attendant’s eyes had widened. Of course he had heard of Berra. “Yogi’s coming?” he had said. “Why don’t you go inside and wait for him? I’ll watch your truck.”
   Unfortunately, a year had passed, and now all Guidry saw was a uniformed female employee who eyed him suspiciously as he edged a few steps from the truck in the direction of the terminal. Guidry decided not to risk it, because the only thing worse than not being where Berra expected him to be would be having the truck towed.
   So Guidry stood like a sentry in his white, short-sleeved, button-down shirt, which hung just below the belt line of his dark slacks. At age sixty, he was starting to turn gray, his combed-back hair barely clinging to its natural dark glint. Otherwise, the man celebrated by Yankees fans as “Louisiana Lightning” remained trim and tanned enough to be mistaken at a glance for a player in his prime.
   It was late on the afternoon of February 22, 2011. Being in Tampa at this time of year was a ritual of late winter for Guidry, a foreshadowing of the calendar spring. After his retirement from the Yankees in 1989, he had returned every year as a special camp instructor, with the exception of the two years he had served as the team’s pitching coach, 2006 and 2007, and the strike year, 1995, when baseball had tried to ram replacement players down the public’s throat. There was no way he was showing up for that.
   He never flew to Tampa, preferring instead to load his truck for the eleven-hour drive from his handsome gated home on about seventy rustic acres outside Lafayette, Louisiana, a straight shot on Interstate 10 across Mississippi, Alabama, and on into northern Florida’s western flank. From there, Guidry would head south on Interstate 75, the final leg into the Yankees’ training base, directly across Dale Mabry Highway from Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
   By this breezy Tuesday afternoon, he had already been in camp for about a week, having timed his arrival, as always, to pitchers and catchers. It never took long—a workout or two—for Guidry to get his head back in the game. But his heart beat to a different rhythm, to a conviction that no spring training could really begin until the most famous catcher of all had arrived.
   That would be Lawrence Peter Berra, the American icon with the most endearing nickname known to man, bestowed on him by a childhood friend because of the yoga-like position he assumed while waiting for his turn to bat during neighborhood sandlot games on benchless St. Louis ball fields. Guidry was at the airport to pick up the eighty-five-year-old “package,” his dear friend—“my best friend,” he would say, as a matter of fact—coming for his annual stay of several weeks.
   “It’s like I’m the valet,” Guidry said. “Actually, I am the valet.”
   And when Berra hit town, there could be no excuse for failing to be there on time to meet him. Everyone who knew the old man understood the one essential requirement to maintaining a relationship with him: he did not accept lateness, most of all in himself. Guidry knew it as well as anyone in Berra’s immediate family: “Yogi is never late.”
   So there was little chance, Guidry reasoned, that flight 518 from the notoriously congested Newark Liberty International Airport would dare fail to touch down at its appointed time. Not with Berra—a man who inspired people earthbound and airborne alike to please him—on board.

The punctual side of Yogi Berra was never plainer—and more painful—to those closest to him than the previous summer, after he took a fateful step just outside the front door of his home in Montclair, New Jersey, on a Friday afternoon, July 16, 2010.
   It was an emotional time for Berra, reeling from the deaths of the most famous of all Yankees voices, the longtime public-address announcer Bob Sheppard on July 11 and “the Boss” himself, George Steinbrenner, two days later. It was also the day before Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium—the Yankees being the team that originated the concept and the last to continue it, primarily because they continued to churn out players to celebrate, decade after decade. Not that anyone had planned it this way, but the timing of the deaths was another clear illustration that no organization in sports did pomp and pathos quite like the Yankees.
   Given the magnitude of the occasion, Berra decided it might be a good idea to tidy up his appearance. He normally had his hair cut at a local barbershop. But out of respect for Old-Timers’ Day and the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York, eight days later, he made an appointment at the Classic Look, his wife Carmen’s salon on Bloomfield Avenue, just across the town border in Verona. In anticipation of having to sign a fair number of autographs, Yogi Berra, metrosexual, whose thick, gnarly fingers had borne the brunt of nineteen years behind the plate, also opted for a manicure.
   Checking his watch, anxious to get into his car for the short drive, he forgot about the cracked cement on the front step. He caught his foot and went down fast, face first. Soon blood was everywhere, in a quickly widening pool on the ground, all over his face and clothes.
   Having celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday two months earlier, on May 12, he was considered in excellent health for a man his age, but he had been taking the blood thinner Coumadin since being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in his seventies.
   So here is what Berra, a man of his word and of unalterable routine, chose to do next: he slowly and achingly got up, staggered back inside the house to change his shirt and locate a towel in a largely futile attempt to stanch the bleeding from his nose—which had taken the worst of the fall—and drove himself to the salon with one hand on the wheel.
   There Denise Duke, the stylist, was already wondering what the heck was going on. Berra was late, and that had never happened before when he’d had an appointment with her. He was, in fact, usually a half-hour early. But when he arrived, bleeding profusely and looking as white as a ghost, she became nearly hysterical.
   An attractive blond in her midforties, Duke had known the Berras for some time, and as a loyal Yankees fan, she loved doting on Yogi, whom she liked to call “my boyfriend,” especially when Carmen was around. But in all seriousness, she marveled at how unassuming Berra was for a major celebrity and how well he handled the salon patrons, who could never resist getting into his space and telling him what big fans they were as a prelude to asking for an autograph. He almost never refused.
   Once, Duke introduced her nephew—a gangly high school baseball player who happened to be a catcher—to her famous friend. Berra signed the boy’s mitt and several weeks later inquired as to how he was doing. Not so well, she said; he had torn up a knee and was going to need it rebuilt.
   “He’s broken already?” Berra asked.
   What did he mean by “broken”? Then she realized this was just Berra-speak—“nothing fancy, plain English,” and part of why so many people related to him so well.
   Unfortunately, he wasn’t relating to her when she begged him to forget about the manicure and get to the hospital immediately. “I’m fine; it’ll stop,” he said of the bleeding. That didn’t seem likely to Duke, who was aware that Berra was on Coumadin—as her father had been—and knew how things could quickly get out of control.
   Berra was also breathing heavily and appeared to be trembling. She feared he might be in serious trouble, so she summoned a young police officer who just happened to be standing outside the shop in the small strip mall. He was of no help: Berra charmed the starstruck officer into agreeing with him that he was OK.
   While her colleagues tended furiously to Berra’s facial cuts, Duke rushed through the manicure and haircut and told him she would drive him home. No, he said, he’d drive himself home, and besides, she couldn’t possibly drive his car.
   “What are you saying, that I can’t drive a Jaguar?” she said.
   That’s right, he insisted; only he could drive the Jaguar. But he offered her a compromise: she could ride with him, if that would make her happy.
   Anxious to get him home however she could, where hopefully Carmen could talk some sense into him, Duke agreed to the terms. She asked her shampoo girl to follow them so that she would have a ride back to the shop, but she regretted this arrangement as soon as Berra pulled onto Bloomfield Avenue, a crowded roadway, and began drifting from one lane to the other.
   “Yogi, be careful,” she said.
   “It’s OK,” he said, assuring her that other cars always had a habit of avoiding his.
   How, exactly, was that? she asked skeptically. He shrugged. That apparently was just how it was.
   When they reached Berra’s quiet street, Duke asked if Carmen was at home. He said he didn’t know. Then the bleeding octogenarian with a crimson paper towel stuck to his nose turned to her and snapped, “I hope she isn’t, because if she sees me bringing you home with me, you’ll be bleeding worse than me.”
   Under the circumstances, Duke didn’t know whether to crack up or cry. But when she saw the bloodstains on the front walk, she began to believe that this most unusual man must indeed have an angel guiding him.
   It was an absolute miracle, she thought, that he had even made it to the shop. And come to think of it, his determination to keep his appointment was probably a blessing. Lord knows what would have happened had he gone back inside the house and stayed there.
   Now she argued with Berra about what to do next. He wanted to take a shower. She implored him to call Carmen, who was not home, and to get to the hospital. Remembering she had clients waiting for her at the salon, Duke finally decided to leave. On the ride back to the shop, she came up with a number for Larry Berra, the oldest of Yogi’s three sons, and told him to contact Carmen immediately and get someone to the house.
   Larry reached Carmen on her cell phone, in her car, which at the moment was plugged into a pump at the gas station. “Well,” she said, “I can’t pull out just yet.”
   When she finally got home, she, too, was shocked and frightened by the sight of the blood outside and even more so when she saw her husband—a well-groomed sight—sitting in his favorite blue leather chair in the den, holding a compress to his face, watching TV.
   “We’re going to the hospital,” she said.
   “I’m going to Old-Timers’ Day,” he said.
   Within a couple of hours, Carmen Berra, no slouch in the face of her husband’s legendary stubbornness, finally coaxed him to go to a nearby emergency room. Doctors attended to the cuts and, strangely, sent him home, where blood continued to ooze. The following morning, Carmen convinced him to return, and this time—noticing that Berra was walking stiffly and fearing he had suffered a fracture—the doctors decided to admit him.
   Sadly, he was forced to watch Old-Timers’ Day on television, fielding get-well calls from a lineup of heavy hitters: Joe Girardi, the manager and former Yankees catcher; Derek Jeter, the beloved captain; Nick Swisher, the congenitally cheerful right fielder. On it went, the lines burning up from the South Bronx, where the collection of former heroes trotted out from the dugout for the first time in eleven years without the greatest of all living Yankees.
   Berra wound up stuck in the hospital for almost two excruciating weeks, hating every minute of it. Except for the day Ron Guidry came to visit.
   What Guidry initially saw when he knocked on the door and walked inside—Carmen sitting on the edge of the bed, with an expressionless Yogi slumped in a chair, his chin sinking into his chest—was sobering.
   “Hey, buddy, how you doing?” Guidry said.
   “Gator!” Berra replied, sitting up straighter, calling Guidry by the nickname that always made perfect sense to Yogi, who believed that his friend lived “in the swamps” along with the real gators. His eyes crinkled, and his craggy face broke into an illuminating smile.
   Guidry kissed him on the top of his head, and they proceeded to talk for a while about Old-Timers’ Day and the coming Hall of Fame weekend, which Guidry was still planning to attend, though less happily now that Berra wasn’t going.
   “So, Yogi, really, how’re you feeling?” Guidry asked.
   “All right,” he said. “But I can’t have no vodka.”
   More than most, Guidry understood the calamity of the situation. He knew how much Berra relished the few daily ounces—three was the current allowance—that his doctors permitted him to have.
   “Not good at all, dude,” Guidry said.
   Soon a physician arrived to say that the battery of tests they had run on Berra had checked out well. There were just a few minor concerns—residual issues from the fall—that would require him to remain in the hospital for a few more days of therapy and observation.
   “Any questions?” the doctor asked.
   Guidry decided yes, matter of fact, he did have one.
   “And you are?” the doctor asked.
   “That’s Gator,” Berra said, making the informal introduction.
   “What about the vodka?” Guidry asked.
   “Are you asking if Mr. Berra can have vodka?” she said.
   Guidry nodded.
   The doctor thought about it for a few seconds and said, “Sure, I don’t see why not.” When she left the room, Guidry pulled a flask from his pocket. Inside were a few ounces of Ketel One, the Dutch brand Berra insisted on.
   “That’s for you, buddy,” Guidry said.
   Berra and Guidry passed the next hour doing what they usually did in each other’s company—talking baseball and teasing each other—the storied Yankees pitcher and iconic catcher drawing on an endless reservoir of camaraderie. When it was time for Guidry to go, he leaned close to Berra and said, “See you again in spring training, OK, Yog?”
   Berra nodded. Of course he would.
   “You’ll pick me up at the airport?” he said.
   After all these years, did he really have to ask? The answer, Guidry knew, was yes—Berra had to ask, over and over, until Guidry was ready to scream.
   In the weeks and months ahead, as Berra plotted his Florida journey, his rite of baseball renewal, he would badger Guidry by phone to quiz him on a multitude of arrangements. Carmen, meanwhile, began to have doubts about whether her husband was in any condition to make the trip, to be away from home and from her for several weeks on end.
   As is often the case with the elderly, the fall had a permanent effect on the man she had been devoted to for six-plus decades, having married him in 1949. The facial cuts had healed, and he was walking again without pain. But he moved more slowly, spoke more softly, and no longer drove or tested the theory that the Jaguar had a protective bubble around it when he was at the wheel.
   As spring training drew closer, Carmen picked up the telephone one day, dialed Guidry’s number, and found herself on the line with his wife, Bonnie. “Maybe you should tell Ronnie not to be encouraging Yogi to go to Florida,” Carmen said, blunt as ever.
   Bonnie Guidry didn’t quite know how to respond. She and Ron loved the Berras more than anyone they’d known around the Yankees. She considered Carmen a special friend, too. She had gone out in the city with Carmen several times, once taking in a show with Carmen and Yogi’s adult granddaughter Lindsay.
   Bonnie understood why Carmen was apprehensive. Really, she did. But she also knew how much Yogi loved spring training and how crushing it would be for him not to go, especially this of all years, given the franchise’s losses of the previous summer. With Steinbrenner gone, he’d want to be there to help with the healing.
   “Carmen,” she said, “you know that something could happen to Yogi anywhere. But if anything were to happen in spring training, at least you know he would be doing something he absolutely loves. And you know that Ron will take care of him.”
   That Carmen did know. That much she could count on.

Waiting by his truck, smoothing his mustache, Guidry wondered what the next few weeks were going to be like. No doubt, he figured, this spring training would be much harder than any previous one. Berra was going to need more looking after than usual. Ron had spoken to Carmen after the decision had been made that Yogi would come—which, truth be told, Guidry had never doubted.
   “You see, his whole world has always revolved around the game, outside of his family,” Guidry said. “Baseball has always been his life. It’s what the game means to him more than what he means to the game from other people’s eyes. But he doesn’t look at it that way. He just looks at the damn game, ’cause this is what he knows more about than anything else. And I’ve always been afraid if you took that away from him, how that would affect him. Because when you take away something from somebody at that age that he loves so much, they may just quit, and I don’t want that to happen. Nobody wants that to happen.”
   Guidry sighed at the mere thought of spring training without Berra—the Yankees without Berra—before pushing it away.
   “So I spoke to Carmen about that,” he said. “I love her, too, but I wasn’t afraid to say, ‘You have to let him come.’ She didn’t get mad, not at all. I think she just knew this is how it’s got to be.”
   Guidry was also a realist; he knew that his friend had aged more in six months than he had over the past six years. The recovery from the fall had required a good deal of inactivity. “When you take a person of his age and you take away six months, it’s hard to recuperate and pick up where he left off,” he said.
   So he waited anxiously for Berra, whose family had prearranged for assistance from the gate to the baggage carousel, where Guidry was supposed to be waiting, or at least had been in the past. He knew that with Berra, if you did something once in a particular way, it had to be done that way for all time.
   From outside, peering through the windows, Guidry finally spotted Yogi, a little more slouched than he remembered, looking around for him, already a little flustered. Berra was wearing a blue blazer with an American flag pin on the lapel and a blue-and-white-checked sweater underneath. The coat he would not need in Tampa was draped over his left arm.
   Soon Berra was ushered outside by the airline attendant, and his face brightened when he spotted the familiar white truck and Guidry waiting on the sidewalk. Guidry took the bags from the attendant—two moderate-size suitcases, one with the Yankees’ familiar interlocking “NY” logo.
   “How come you didn’t come in?” Berra asked, before proceeding to recite the itinerary for the rest of the day—hotel check-in, shopping, supper, and so on.
   Guidry rolled his eyes and complained aloud about what he had gotten himself into by serving as Berra’s personal valet.
   “Get your ass in the truck,” he barked, and Berra giggled like a little boy on his way to his first ballgame. Guidry reached inside for the dark blue baseball cap with the inscription driving mr. yogi and placed it atop his neatly combed hair. With Guidry at the wheel and Berra in the passenger seat, they pulled into traffic and drove off on another long adventure together, just as they had for eleven glorious years.

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Table of Contents

Prologue ix
The Pickup 1
Roots 12
The Late Show 30
Perfection 47
Campers 60
Shared Values 77
Total Recall 93
It Takes a Clubhouse 113
Ron’s Rule 129
Frog Legs and Friends 142
Swish Hitting 154
A Yankee’s Calling 171
Concessions 185
Epilogue 201
Acknowledgments 211

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Driving Mr. Yogi is a wonderful book about friendship, love, loy

    Driving Mr. Yogi is a wonderful book about friendship, love, loyalty, aging, and forgiveness. By the time it’s over you know much more about two former baseball heroes than their on the field exploits. You wish you could be riding with them and sharing their camaraderie. This is much more than the average sports story. It is about life. Do not miss it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 7, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book! I grew up watching Yogi play . I also was a c

    I loved this book! I grew up watching Yogi play . I also was a catcher who was short and Yogi was my motivetion to keep playing that position. It did me good to know about all of the people, especiall Ron Guidry, who have been and are taking care of Yogi in his twilight years. The book is well written and impossible to put down once begun. Yogi is a treasure.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 9, 2012

    You don't have to love baseball to love this book. Driving Mr. Y

    You don't have to love baseball to love this book. Driving Mr. Yogi is exceptionally written and a wonderful insight into a heartwarming friendship between two Yankee greats. I was truly touched by the humanity of this story. Mr. Araton, whose columns in the New York Times are always must-reads, once again has hit one out of the park.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    We should all have someone as devoted to us as Ron Guidry is to

    We should all have someone as devoted to us as Ron Guidry is to Yogi Berra when we reach Berra's age. A lovely story and book. Recommended for all, baseball fan or not.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 9, 2012

    A must read for anyone interested in the true meaning of friends

    A must read for anyone interested in the true meaning of friendship - for baseball fans and non-baseball fans alike.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    A disappointment

    A huge disappointment. As a native new yorker and lifelong yankees fan i expected more from this book. It was just a fluff piece, witth no real insight. After the first chapter we get the picture; yes yogi and guidry have a special bond. There were no behind the scenes or inner inside workings of what was special between them. The book was amorphous in its scope and details. It reads like a column in the new york post and should have stayed a column and not a book for $14.00.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    A Must-Read for Yankee fans and Baseball fans

    The true story about Yogi Berra's exile from the Yankees and the friendship that made his return so special. This touching story highlights why Yogi Berra is a national treasure and creates a whole new appreciation for Ron Guidry. It will also make you hungry for frog legs!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    much moe Re Much more than baseball this is about friendship across generations it is about aging wonderful

    Great read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 10, 2013

    Good luck at Yogi

    A good look at the longtime relationship between Yogi and Ron Guidry. The book drags a little, though, and is about 50-75 pages too long. It was probably best as a long magazine piece.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Favorite book

    Great book abouf friendship

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    very good

    informative, sad in some respects, what a great career

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2012

    Just ok

    This book was vanilla. Had highhopes for this book enjoyed other books involving Yogi. Had trouble even finishing it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    G

    H

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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