It Ain’t Over is a sports documentary that honors one of the greatest catchers of all time, Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees.
Not many baseball players could say they had 3 MVP Awards, 18 All-Star appearances in 15 seasons, and 10 World Series rings. Well, except for Yogi Berra. He was a catcher during the Yankees dynasty, bringing the eras between Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. Berra was a part of one of the lasting images in baseball history: jumping into Don Larsen’s arms after Larsen’s perfect game during the World Series. Years later, on Yogi Berra Day in 1999, both Larsen and Berra were on hand to witness David Cone throw a perfect game. You could not write a better script if you tried. But anyway, this makes it all the more perplexing that he was not voted to be among the greatest living baseball players in 2015.
Lindsay Berra is Yogi’s granddaughter and shares his story with us along with her father, Larry, and uncles, Tim and Dale. They are joined by a number of Yankees teammates, players once managed by Yogi, writers, and broadcasters. You cannot have a MLB documentary today without Bob Costas providing commentary. Of course, the presence of Yankees fan Billy Crystal is a requirement in any Yankees doc. Throughout the doc, there is a ton of archival footage and photos. One of which is a clip from an interview with the late Tim Russert. The full interview is currently on YouTube.
There’s more than a few entertaining moments in watching this documentary. For one, there’s the debate over Jackie Robinson stealing home plate. Yogi thought the Dodgers Hall of Famer was out. However, the umpire thought otherwise and ruled him safe. This was in an era before instant replay so it’s forever going to be a difference of opinion. There’s no shortage of YouTube clips if you want to watch the famous steal for yourself.
And then, of course, you have the Yogisms. There are way too many of them to count but it makes for quite the entertaining segment. The most famous of them all is where the film gets its title: It ain’t over until it’s over. But as the film makes note, this is one of those sayings where the legend became greater than the fact. One of the things that I found entertaining is how they have a Yogism going up against sayings from famous philosophers, etc.
One of the worst moments in baseball history came when Yogi Berra was excommunicated by George Steinbrenner. Steinbrenner fired Berra 16 games into the season after vowing he wouldn’t fire him. It caused a feud that wouldn’t end for another 14 years. Steinbrenner finally admitted he made a mistake at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center. This is one of the times where I had tears because Berra is one of the greats. You don’t just excommunicate the Hall of Famers! And yet, that started a rift between the two in which Berra would not show up for the Old Timers Days.
For all the entertaining moments, there are times where one can get quite emotional. For one, watching the efforts to get Berra honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom brought tears to my eyes. Yogi’s granddaughter, Lindsay Berra, made a big push on social media and her efforts were still falling short with 6 hours to go before the deadline. You would think it would be easier for a Yankee legend and Hall of Fame catcher of Berra’s caliber to get the 100,000 signatures but nope.
What surprises me the most about watching It Ain’t Over is that this not for the MLB Network. MLB Network presents a number of documentaries each year about players or teams. I’m glad to see Berra get his due but you would think that MLB would have done something in their own right. Instead, it’s Vanishing Angle that is producing this brilliant baseball documentary.
In another universe, Branch Rickey might have signed Yogi Berra over Joe Garagiola and baseball history would never be the same. They were both local kids in St. Louis. But shortly after signing Garagiola, Rickey left the Cardinals and took over the Brooklyn Dodgers. The plan was to sign Berra after making his way to Brooklyn. Fate had other plans in the cards because the New York Yankees swooped in and signed him. Berra would enlist in the U.S. Navy during World War II and play a part in the Normandy invasion on D-Day. He could have gotten a Purple Heart at the time but didn’t want his mother to worry. The rest is history.
Yogi Berra is one of 19 Baseball Hall of Famers who were inducted as a catcher. He is the 6th best catcher in the Hall of Fame going off of the Jay Jaffe War Score System (JAWS). St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina will be joining the roster in the years to come.
Whether you’re a Yankees fan or not, It Ain’t Over is a solid tribute to Yogi Berra. I’m a Cardinals fan and despite my feelings towards the Yankees, I will always watch documentaries about baseball history. Yogi Berra is more than a caricature and we should remember him for his efforts on the field in addition to Yogisms, commercials, etc. That’s the beauty of watching this film and it will introduce Berra to a new generation of baseball fans.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Sean Mullin
FEATURING: Yogi Berra, Lindsay Berra, Dale Berra, Larry Berra, Tim Berra, Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly, Bob Costas, Vin Scully, Billy Crystal
It Ain’t Over holds its world premiere during the 2022 Tribeca Festival in the Spotlight Documentary program. Grade: 4.5/5
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