“Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry and Baseball’s Greatest Gift” by Harvey Araton, narrated by Peter Berkrot
Baseball, golf, history, Yankees, audio book
January 1, 2012
256 pages; 7 hours in audio format
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Baseball fans, whether Yankee fans or not, who want to read a feel-good story about friendship and baseball yarns will enjoy this book about two Yankee legends. When Yogi Berra ended his self-imposed exile from the team in 1999, that meant that he would be attending spring training. He would need transportation from the airport to the hotel and the spring training complex in Tampa. Enter Ron Guidry, the former Yankee star best remembered for his outstanding season in 1978 when he compiled a 25-3 record with a 1.74 earned run average.
The simple task of picking up Yogi was the beginning of a long friendship between the two men that is told in a style that is both heartwarming and humorous. The book mainly focuses on Berra’s life and baseball career, but there are also several stories about Guidry as well. The stories are mostly the type that are shared over beers in a pub or on the porch when guys just want to pass the time by shooting the breeze. Not only are there stories about the two men in the title, there are also stories about George Steinbrenner, the golfing skills of Berra (there are so many of them that it could also be considered a book on golf as well as baseball), and the circumstances that led to Berra returning to Yankee Stadium after he was fired as the manager 14 games into the 1985 season.
Readers who are looking to find new information on the Yankees or on Berra will not find it in this book, as many of the tales have been told in other sources. Nor does the book delve too deeply into Yankee history as the recollections are more about individual events involving Guidry and Berra more than entire recaps. That type of dialogue was what I was hoping to hear in this book and it delivered. Also, I must mention a funny Yogi-ism that was told in the book. When Berra was talking about the commercial he had to film, Guidry didn’t know what product he was endorsing. Berra was getting frustrated and told him it was the one with the “Affliction duck.” He was referring to the Aflac commercials.
However, the narration in the book was disappointing. While trying to differentiate between the two men when quoted, the voice given to Berra was very distracting and sounded nothing like the man. Also, given a few hiccups it sounded like the narrator was not familiar with baseball – I will give two examples.
One was when Guidry’s statistics from 1984 were mentioned, the narrator stated that he had a won-loss record of “10 to 11.” When citing a won-loss record, it reads “10 and 11.” The other notable error that baseball fans will catch was the mispronunciation of some player names. One that caught my attention right away was for former Yankee outfielder Ricky Ledee. In the book, his last name was pronounced La-DEE when the proper pronunciation is La-DAY. This made the otherwise good narrative a little less entertaining. This book is best read in its original form and will leave the reader laughing and feeling like he or she knows Berra and Guidry a little better.
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