Our documentary, "The Sandlot Journey" literally begins...on Yogi's porch. We were directed (by my ex-teammate and friend Marty Kunkler) to visit Yogi's childhood home on "the hill" where Yogi, Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck lived and played together in their sandlot.
Hall of Fame Lane is probably the most famous street in St. Louis I would imagine. We ate the best food we had ever tasted. What an amazing setting and time we had. What a sandlot.
We were met there by Mary Francis, Yogi's niece. She and her family are just what you would expect, the most gracious people on the planet. They invited us to film right off the porch.
Joe Simpson, our narrator starts the documentary by painting a picture of what it probably looked like as Yogi headed off the porch to go get Joe and their buddies and play in their "sandlot" all day.
This is where they learned how to play the game. This is where the smiles came from. Try and find a picture of these guys where they are not smiling when they are together. Baseball makes you smile...and it breaks your heart.
But when you are with your buddies, it is the single greatest time of your life. Most guys who are now out of the game will tell you it's the "camaraderie" they miss the most.
Catchers are amazing. The whole game is in front of them. They control the game. Yogi showed them not only how to play the game, but love the game and be a great human. There will never be another Yogi. To watch him play made us smile, to lose him breaks our heart.
I always thought the most amazing statistic he had, (other than the 3 MVP's, 10 World Series Championships...and all that stuff) was that there were a couple of seasons where he hit more home runs than times he struck out!! Now...THAT is hand eye coordination, power, learning how to shorten up your swing and go to all fields, concentrating and putting the ball in play. I hated to strike out!!!!! I know he learned all that on "the hill".
Mary Francis said she is going to turn Yogi's childhood home into a bed and breakfast. If she does, go check-in for a night. Walk the hill. Bring your glove and your appetite.
You can start at Yogi's porch, enjoy the journey.