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Farewell to Yogi Berra, baseball great and folksy philosopher

Former Yankees catcher Yogi Berra throws out the

Former Yankees catcher Yogi Berra throws out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on April 12, 2000. Credit: Getty Images / Henny Ray Abrams

It's over.

Except that it's not, really. Yogi Berra might have died, but he will live on among New Yorkers, baseball fans of all stripes and lovers of pop culture.

You didn't have to know the game to know Yogi. One of the first one-name personalities, he transcended baseball with colorful sayings that seemed to make no sense but were filled with wisdom. That was the essence of Yogi -- the lovable paradox.

He was rightly celebrated as a common man of great humility, but his achievements were singular and extraordinary. Cherished by fans of the Yankees as the ultimate winner and a key part of their dynasty, he's also remembered warmly by Mets fans for managing their team to a National League title. Although born in St. Louis, he was quintessentially ours -- a striver and son of immigrants who gave birth to a cartoon character, Yogi Bear, and a phrase, Yogi-ism, that captured his delightful and often enigmatic epigrams. Eight of them -- including the enduring "You can observe a lot by watching" -- appear alongside those from Shakespeare and the Bible in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.

His dear wife, Carmen, who died last year, once asked him where he wanted to be buried, since he grew up in St. Louis, played in New York and lived in New Jersey. Yogi's response: "Surprise me."

In truth, it doesn't matter where Yogi's body is laid to rest. His spirit resides in all of us, as we tell ourselves that the future ain't what it used to be, it's deja vu all over again, nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded, and -- especially -- it ain't over 'til it's over.

RIP, Yogi. May you forever be immortal.