Yogi Berra? Babe Herman? Department Store Sales Woman? Young Student? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: My favorite quotation from Yogi Berra was said when he was introduced to a beautiful model after a baseball game. She complimented him, and his fumbling reply was unintentionally funny:
She said, “You look so nice and cool in that white uniform.”
He said, “Thanks! You don’t look so hot yourself.”
Is this anecdote accurate?
Quote Investigator: This type of comical tale has a long history. In 1934 a newspaper in Illinois printed a version in which the two participants were a “young woman of our village” and a sales woman: 1
It was a hot day. She had gone to a department store office to pay her bill, and, impressed by the crisp, fresh appearance of the girl behind the counter, she had exclaimed, “My, but you look cool.” And the girl had gazed across the counter and replied briskly, “You don’t look so hot yourself.”
In July 1937 a New York newspaper printed a version of the story that featured members of the opposite sex. Once again the tale was presented as a humorous piece of non-fiction: 2
Few stories of the recent heat wave to equal that dug up by Mark Hellinger, who tells about the conversational difficulty of the young man and young woman who had to resort to the old standby, the weather.
“You don’t appear to be minding the heat,” was her gracious lead.
He tried his best to think of a complimentary comeback, but the words did not come. Finally he thought of one.
“Well, you don’t look so hot yourself,” he told her. And then the air grew much cooler.
Eventually, a jocular story of this type was told about a baseball player. Interestingly, the first player who appeared in this anecdote was Babe Herman and not Yogi Berra. An instance featuring Herman was published in 1951, and an instance with Yogi was published in 1956. Details are given further below.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.