Yogi Berra surely must have felt like he was living one of his most famous quotes as he prepared the introduction for Yogi Berra's Favorite Baseball Radio Shows. The former New York Yankee star recently answered some questions about his latest project.
PW: Why did you want to be involved with this project?
MediaBay came to me and said that they were interested in publishing baseball's first "greatest hits" collection of old-time classic baseball programs. I remember many of these shows when they aired way back then and was glad to participate.
Have you always been a fan of radio shows?
When I was growing up, the only fun we poor kids had was playing sandlot ball and listening to the radio. Luckily for us, these things were free. When I wasn't at the games, I was listening to them on the radio. Boy, I'd scream with excitement when Joe [Medwick of the Cardinals Knothole Gang] would smack one outta there [Sportsman's Park, St. Louis]. It was actually a lot more fun listening to the games than getting into the games and sitting in the nosebleeds. Radio definitely allowed me to "see" more of the game. The smack of the ball would just give me the goosebumps.
Plus, play-by-play sure beat guessing what just happened almost 100 yards away being at the games. Even during the commercials you'd even hear from a favorite ballplayer, pitching something. And even when the games weren't on, the players would appear as special guests on the Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor and Fred Allen shows. There you got to hear the players as themselves, before players got agents and PR handlers. That's what's in this collection, the appearances of the greats on those shows, along with a few shows about the greats, like the Babe Ruth story.
Was it difficult to pick favorites from the various baseball radio broadcasts? Do you have an all-time favorite?
Absolutely not. As I said, I loved radio back then. Still do. I have many favorites, and I absolutely adored Casey Stengel. He was my mentor and every reason in the world why I became a baseball coach and manager. He was always a guarantee to give a lively radio interview—'specially love him on Bill Stern's Sport Newsreel.
What kinds of memories did this process stir up for you?
Why do you think today's baseball fans will enjoy this recording? What do you hope they'll take away from it?
It is unfortunate that many new fans of today missed the chance to see the greats of the past. Baseball back then was a very passionately followed and played sport. It was America's great pastime. Just listening to some of the legends and the classic programs that appear on this program will inspire a new or even a seasoned athlete and stir up memories and emotions of the game of the past.
What was it like being in the studio, recording your voice for a new audience?
Aw, it's nothing new for me, really, after years of giving live interviews. It is a bit of history, and I'm glad to be bringing it to fans of all ages today.
Would you like to do more audio projects?
Sure—but it'd have to be something incredibly close to my interests, like this collection. This is a one-of-a-kind.