As a baby boomer growing up in the New York City area I couldn’t help being a Yankees fan. I’ve never followed sports since then, but I got caught up in Yankee fever during the Mantle-Maris era. I collected their baseball cards and chewed a lot of bubble gum in the process. Elston Howard even moved into a white neighborhood in my home town of Teaneck, New Jersey.
Now comes It Ain’t Over, an unabashed love letter to the great Yogi Berra. Yes, his name inspired the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Yogi Bear—leaving a permanent mark on our popular culture. He was lovable and quotable (“when you come to a fork in the road, take it”), and he endorsed the irresistible Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink, but he also racked up a lifetime of incredible statistics at bat and on the field. That’s the point of writer-director Sean Mullin’s highly watchable documentary. He wasn’t just a great character; he was a great player who went on to become a great manager. How many players can you name who sport ten World Series rings?
Yogi made baseball history more than once: as the catcher working in harmony with pitcher Don Larsen for an unforgettable World Series perfect game and as the man who thought he caught Jackie Robinson out at home plate in an umpire’s judgment call that still has fans debating the result.
He deserves to be remembered and celebrated for these and his many other achievements—as well as a lifetime of devotion to his wife and family. It Ain’t Over offers testimony from family members, friends, fellow players and admirers like Billy Crystal. They all agree that Yogi lived the kind of life we wish our heroes to have: filled with love, respect, and integrity. It’s a film fans can embrace and younger generations can learn from. I loved it.
It Ain’t Over made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend.