We’re Lost, But We’re Making Good Time!

Yogi Berra? George Lichty? Buddy Blattner? Joe Garagiola? Apocryphal? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Famed baseball player Yogi Berra is credited with many hilarious remarks. Once Yogi was driving to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York with some other players. After passing the same landmark three times a fellow player named Joe Garagiola said “Yogi, you’re lost” and he replied:

Yeah, I know it. But we’re making good time, ain’t we?

I hope this anecdote is true. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: In 1998 Yogi Berra published a short volume called “The Yogi Book” containing a series of quotations that Berra claimed were accurately ascribed to him. He presented background information explaining when and why each statement was made. This is a valuable document because a large number of spurious sayings have been attached to the good-natured and larger-than-life figure.

Berra states that he did make a remark of this type while driving to the Hall of Fame in 1972. The other occupants of the vehicle were his wife Carmen and his three sons. “Carmen was giving me a hard time, so I gave it back.” He said:

We’re lost, but we’re making good time!

This suggests that Berra was consciously making a joke. In fact, QI has traced this type of humorous comment as far back as the 1940s. A panel by the cartoonist George Lichty was published in the October 1947 issue of popular periodical Collier’s Weekly. It depicted a uniformed airplane pilot addressing his passengers with the following words [CWGL]:

We’re still lost, but we’re making very good time!

Lichty was best known for the long-running syndicated comic strip panel “Grin and Bear It”. Interestingly, he did not formulate the punchline given above. The cartoon was reprinted in Collier’s Weekly in 1948 along with commentary that identified the author of the caption as Buddy Blattner, a baseball player who later became a broadcaster [CWBB]:

The gag, incidentally, came from the fertile brain of Buddy Blattner, of the New York Giants, who sold it to Collier’s, who farmed it to Lichty.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading We’re Lost, But We’re Making Good Time!

You Can’t Think and Hit at the Same Time

Yogi Berra? Bucky Harris? Eddie Froelich? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The New York Times magazine recently highlighted a quotation from a Hall of Fame baseball player: 1

“How can you think and hit at the same time?” Yogi Berra once said, which like many of the quotes attributed to the former Yankees catcher, even the malapropisms, contains an essential truth. You can’t think and hit because there’s not time for both.

Did Yogi really say this, or do people simply believe that he should have said it?

Quote Investigator: The evidence is not completely clear because Yogi himself has made confusing pronouncements about this saying. The earliest citation known to QI appeared in an article by “The New York Times” sports writer Arthur Daley published in June 1947. Bucky Harris who was Yogi Berra’s manager selected him to perform as a pinch-hitter, and Harris attempted to give Yogi some mental advice. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

“You, Yogi,” snapped Bucky. “Go in there and hit. I realize that you’re in a slump, but you aren’t thinking enough at the plate. Think before you pick out a ball. Make sure it’s good before you swing. Think!”

The Yankee manager gave his hero a brisk pat on the back and sent him into the fray. Yogi struck out most inelegantly and stamped angrily back to the bench, muttering away to himself in a corner of the dug-out. After a while the curious Bucky wandered down and listened to him.

Yogi was repeating over and over, “How can a guy hit and think at the same time?”

Interestingly, this initial version of the quotation used the phrase “hit and think” instead of “think and hit”. Yogi expressed skepticism about the story in his 1961 autobiography, and he revisited the topic in 1998. These excerpts from Yogi are given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Can’t Think and Hit at the Same Time

Notes:

  1. 2011 June 26, New York Times, For Derek Jeter, on His 37th Birthday by Michael Sokolove, Page MM28, Section: Sunday Magazine, New York. (Published online 2011 June 23; Accessed online at New York Times website nytimes.com on 2011 June 27)
  2. 1947 June 12, New York Times, Short Shots in Sundry Directions by Arthur Daley, Quote Page 34, Column 7, New York. (ProQuest)