A few days ago I attributed the line “you can look it up” to the Hall of Fame New York Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra. A loyal and close reader gently suggested that I needed to “look it up.” That quote, he said, really came from Casey Stengel, who managed the Bronx Bombers, Mets and others.
After a little research, I’m frankly not sure who said “you can look it up.” It certainly sounds like something either of the memorable speakers of the English language could have said at the end of a sentence about something to do with the great game.
My research did turn up an article about how difficult it is to trace the origin of well-known quotes. Frankly, that didn’t help much because, if I read the piece correctly, you can’t always look it up. Such things are not always, well a sure thing.
I did find the “official” site for Casey Stengel and a whole page of quotes by and about the great manager. My favorite: “The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.” Or this: “Good pitching will always stop good hitting and vice-versa.”
There is an official Yogi site, too, where you can buy his book – “I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said.” One collection of Berra quotes has this classic from, obviously, Yogi’s history of war and politics: “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”
I did learn this in the search for the origin of the “look it up” quote: In a 1941 short story, the great James Thurber wrote about a three-foot adult (politicallhy incorrect – a midget) being sent to bat in a baseball game. Some claim – but only some – that the Thurber story was the inspiration for baseball owner Bill Veeck’s stunt when he sent three-foot something Eddie Gaudel to the plate in a St. Louis Browns game in 1951. Gaudel got no official at bat. He walked.
You can, oh, never mind.
The title of Thurber’s story? Of course it was – You Could Look It Up.