At the 2015 Major League All-Star Game, the idea for a documentary was born. Lindsay Berra, granddaughter of the late New York Yankee, Yogi Berra, had been in attendance with her grandfather, when a familiar chord was struck within the family. During the game, the Major League Baseball Association honored the four greatest living legends of baseball, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, and Willie Mays. That night, however, a certain player had been overlooked. This was none other than Lindsay Berra’s grandfather, Yogi Berra.
Yogi was no stranger to being ignored. Though his charisma made him an overall media sensation, when it came to recognition, that’s where it ended. It should be noted, however, that Yogi Berra was far more than the “Forrest Gump” of Major League Baseball or the alleged inspiration behind the popular kids’ series, Yogi Bear. As an athlete, he won ten World Series and achieved playing stats on par with the greatest living baseball legends. His baseball talents, however, were often overshadowed by his carefully crafted media persona, destroying any chance of him being taken seriously. As a result, people often downplayed his success. Nonetheless, Yogi was a legendary baseball player and his lack of recognition was the genesis for the superbly inspirational documentary, It Ain’t Over.
It Ain’t Over features a wide selection of archival footage from Berra’s playing career, personal photos, and interviews with his family members, offering a glimpse into the life of the man who rose above poverty to becoming one of the most iconic Major League Baseball players. Berra was a pop culture icon. He transcended baseball, had a successful career in the media, and altered the English language with his renowned catchphrases; Yogisms. Berra paved the way for athletes to transition from sports to celebrity status in the media.
Though becoming a pitchman brought Yogi great financial success, it also transformed him from a serious baseball player to a quirky TV personality. It Ain’t Over demonstrates his media persona via footage of a memorable Miller Light beer commercial featuring a young Jason Alexander. Here, Yogi’s humorously nonsensical dialogue serves as a punchline for promoting the beer. This commercial and many others reinforced people’s perception of Berra as nothing more than a jokester.
After retiring as a player, Yogi transitioned into coaching and managing, during which he was part of an additional five World Series winning teams. Sadly, in 1985, Berra’s management career came to an abrupt end when New York Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner, fired him. It Ain’t Over covers the loss in heartbreaking detail, explaining that for the next 14 years, Berra refused to enter Yankee stadium or have anything to do with the organization. During this period of self-exile, however, you’ll be happy to learn that–like always–Yogi bounced back by creating the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Montclair, New Jersey. This museum exemplified Yogi’s core values by sustaining and promoting “the values of respect, perseverance, sportsmanship and excellence through inclusive, culturally diverse sports-based educational exhibits and programs.” It Ain’t Over, proves that beyond his comical exterior, Yogi possessed great wisdom, kindness, and an exceptional game-IQ.
As I walk away from It Ain’t Over, I can confidently say that the Berra family has set the record straight. As is the Yogism, “You can observe a lot by watching,” I highly recommend that everyone come together to watch this inspiring tale about a legendary person, player, and cultural icon.
It Ain’t Over opens in the New York Tristate Area and Los Angeles on May 12. For more information, visit, SonyClassics.com.