Godspeed, Yogi!

 

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Everyone has a favorite Yogi story. You have heard about his sayings so many times that they don’t need repeating here. My favorite story is an entirely personal one. I met Yogi at the 1986 All-Star Game in Houston; we were guests of the then owner of the Houston Astros, Dr. John McMullen. It was an amazing experience. Yogi was friendly with Dr. McMullen—“call me, John…” (he told me), who along with Vice President George Bush was just one of the many celebs who were present at that year’s All-Star Game as a guest of “John”. Because we were business associates of Dr. McMullen ( I still have a hard time even thinking of him as “John”) we had a chance to visit with Yogi and his wife Carmen, who both were present that night. Like everyone says, Yogi and his wife Carmen, were completely down to earth people. They talked with me like I was one of their sons’ friends; I am from NJ, too, but I didn’t know their sons. We were in the celebrity area quietly watching the game (very undisturbed) so I simply sat down next to both of them and we starting chatting a bit. Carmen talked more than Yogi—-she was so kind asking me about my family and how I was enjoying the game. Most of the time Yogi just smiled and nodded ( like any good husband does) as she asked me questions and I responded to her. After about 5 mins of pleasantries I asked Yogi a question. “” How are you enjoying the game?”. He looked at me like he might have looked at one his ball players who asked him a question during a game —he said, “its a good game, we’re ahead”. He was talking about the American League being ahead. He then said, “but our pitcher looks a little tired”.   I said, ” how can you tell?” He looked me right in the eye and said, ” he’s leavin’ it up…watch”. On the next pitch the National League hitter roped a double to left…Yogi didn’t miss a beat…he then said, “see what I mean?” I laughed out loud….but I was the only one who had heard him.  Yogi just shrugged.  A few people looked over and smiled….they didn’t exactly know what Yogi might have said but when they heard me laugh they wanted to join in the fun. Yogi and Carmen then stood up and went over to talk with one of their friends. The last thing I heard him say was, ” I think we’re going to win this one…” And so the American Leaguers indeed did, to the great chagrin of another notable guest that night, Joe Morgan, of the famed Reds’ Big Red Machine of ’70s.  It was quite a night!

I think we will all miss Yogi, even those who never heard him say any of the wonderful things he supposedly said.   Say a prayer for him and his family. When you get a few minutes read one of his books—-he wrote more than a few.  You will find yourself laughing out loud more than a few times—and smiling a lot.   They say that people who make you laugh are touched by the Holy Spirit.

Godspeed, Yogi!

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About Keith Kulper

Keith D. Kulper is the president and founder of KULPER & COMPANY, LLC an executive search consulting firm working in the area of senior level leadership for academia and corporate innovation. We are strong advocates of nurturing the linkage between academic investigation/research and corporate innovation/full commercialization of new product solutions. We specialize in attracting proven leaders who can effectively drive transformational change. The firm operates an Advisory Board that meets annually to bring together leaders from academia and corporate innovation to help drive continuous improvement of our professional practice. We are also an investor in early stage companies. We take pride in supporting the growth and development of business and engineering schools at leading universities throughout the United States.

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