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!