"You gotta believe!" (long)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Oct 10 03:17:50 UTC 1999


--New York Times, 9 October 1999, pg. 1, col. 3-5 photo of Mets baseball fan.

    Why "believe"?  Why "you gotta believe"?
    "Believe" comes from that great New York Mets baseball player--Cher.  I
think she played the field.  I know she has a lot of hits.
    "You gotta believe" is credited to Mets pitcher Tug McGraw, but we'll
take a much closer look at this and other baseball quotes from 1973.

THE YOGI BOOK (1998) by Yogi Berra
Pg. 30  "It's deja vu all over again!"  My comment after Mickey Mantle and
Roger Maris hit back-to-back home runs for the umpeenth time.  Makes perfect
sense to me.
Pg. 121  "It ain't over 'til it's over!"  That was my answer to a reporter
when I was managing the New York Mets in July 1973.  We were about nine games
out of first place.  We went on to win the division.

_It's not over till it's over._  Never give up hope until the outcome is
final; in life, as in baseball, miracles can and often do, happen.
Attributed to Yogi Berra (1925--) in 1973, when he was managing the ragtag
New York Mets.  Probably the most famous of all Yogiisms. (...)
_1973._  It ain't over till it's over.--Yogi Berra on the game of baseball.

Pg. 165  It ain't over till it's over.--YOGI BERRA, saying, attributed.
Pg. 475  The game isn't over till it's over.--YOGI BERRA, saying, attributed
     Berra made this observation in 1973 while the New York Mets, then
managed by him, were embroiled in a tight pennant race, which they eventually
won.  This is one of many quotations popularly attributed to Berra, but
usually without much evidence.  Many of them are malapropisms, perhaps
reflecting the complex though patterns of Casey Stengel, who managed the New
York Yankees when Berra played catcher.  Among the better-known Berra-isms:
    "It's like _deja vu_ all over again" (but unlike Berra to lapse into

Pg. 286 "Ya gotta believe."
--July 1973 motto and exhortation, used in the Mets' move from sixth place to
the National League pennant. (...)
   McGraw uttered the phrase after a clubhouse speech by M.Donald Grant while
the Mets founder yelled: "He's right!  He's right!  Just believe!  You gotta
believe!"  (Speculation was that the puckish McGraw was mocking Grant.  He
probably was,  but the expression still became the team's emblem down the
Pg. 43  "It ain't over 'til it's over."
--Talking about the 1973 pennant race when the Mets were bouncing all over
the place and finally won their division by winning eighty-two games and
losing seventy-nine.
   There are many versions of this quote as there are of other important
quotations.  One early version has Yogi saying, "It's never over till it's
Pg. 44 "It's deja vu all over again."
--One of his most popular lines, despite the fact that he insists in _Yogi:
It Ain't Over..._  that he didn't say it.

     I went through two of New York City's tabloid newspapers--July-October
1973 of the New York Post and then September-October 1973 of the Daily News.

10 July 1973, NY POST, pg. 92--Mets Board Chairman M. Donald Grant addresses
the team.  The Tug McGraw YGB quote is not here.
20 July 1973, NY POST, pg. 64--"McGraw Still Out of Control."  No YGB.
27 July 1973, NY POST, pg. 55--"Mets Hit Rock Bottom" headline.  No YGB.
28 July 1973, NY POST, pg. 55, col. 1 (Jimmy Cannon)--"'It's all over but the
clambake,' he (Jimmy Braddock at end of career--ed.) said.  I don't know why,
but I can hear him saying that every time his name is mentioned."
31 July 1973, NY POST, pg. 64--"Tug Ready for Bullpen."  No YGB.
1 August 1973, NY POST, pg. 72--"Mets: It's Dial H for Help" headline.  No
3 August 1973, NY POST, pg. 67--"Tug Wins the War."  No YGB.
6 August 1973, NY POST, pg. 55--"Banner Day? Not for Mets."
     Banners:   The Mets Stink.  So Does This Banner; When the Mets Threat
the Other Team Sweats; To Be a Met Is Every Little Leaguer's Dream; We've Got
Pennant Fever over Tom Seaver; Let's See the Mets Fold Up; Seems Like Old
Times. NL Cellar (Summer Home of Y. Berra); Wait til next year; The last
shall be first; The first shall be last; When you say Bud Harrelson, that
says it all; The Mets Are Victims of the Energy Shortage; Out of Gas in 1973;
Thanks for Sticking With Us.
17 August 1973, NY POST, pg. 76--"Mets Must Start Thinking."  No YGB, but
that article begins, "This is for those who believe in miracles.  Stop
28 August 1973, NY POST, pg. 56--"Old McGraw New Stopper."  No YGB.
2 September 1973, NY POST, pg. 142--"...this might be 1969 all over again."
(In 1969, the Mets won the World Series.  Perhaps the inspiration for "deja
vu all over again"--ed.)
4 September 1973, NY POST, pg. 64, col. 1--"Time Running Out on Mets" is the
headline of a story, which continues: "Yeah, it's running out, but you're
still not out of it until it's automatic," Yogi Berra revealed late yesterday
afternoon.  (Is this "It ain't over till it's over"?--ed.)
6 September 1973, NY POST, pg. 64, col. 1--The story mentions "There is life
in the left arm and voice of Tug McGraw, silent for so long."  No YGB.
10 September 1973, NY POST, pg. 54, col. 4--No YGB, but "Now they believe
they can win it."
19 September 1973, NY DAILY NEWS, pg. 106, col. 1--No YGB, but "Despite what
you may have read or heard, somebody up there likes Yogi Berra.  And you
better believe it."
21 September 1973, NY POST, pg. 79, col. 3--No YGB, but catcher Ron Hodges
says, "This is all so unbelievable; I can't believe it's happening and that
I'm a part of it.  (...) I just can't believe it all."  (Mets beat rival
Pittsburgh in 13th inning--ed.)
22 September 1973, NY DAILY NEWS, pg. 28--No YGB, but real close.  Phil Pepe
writes that "It's 1969 all over again."  He uses "It's unbelievable" or
"unbelievable" about a dozen times.  This is one paragraph that's very close:
     But with only eight games to play, you have to believe in the Mets.  You
have to believe they have enough to carry on.  You have to believe because
they have made you believe.
24 September 1973, NY DAILY NEWS, pg. 66, col 5:
     The Miracle of Flushing will be if the Mets DO NOT win the pennant.
     A sign popped up in the bottom of the first inning yesterday with the
Mets losing, 2-0; it read "You Got to Believe."  It was held by two nuns.
2 October 1973, NY DAILY NEWS
     Pg. 3, col. 1--"...Tug McGraw stood on a makeshift platform, shouted,
'One...two...three...you gotta bee-leeeevvvvve!'"
     Pg. 40 (photo caption)--"'You gotta believe,' yells Tug McGraw after
saving Tom Seaver's win for flag."
     Pg. 68, col 3:
     McGraw remembers a day in July, when things were at their lowest.  It
was July 11.  He remembers because that's the day Bud Harrelson and Jerry
Grote came off the disabled list.
     _"Ya Gotta Believe"_
     "I was kidding around with the fans before the game," Tug said.  "I was
telling them, 'You gotta believe.'  It was at the lowest point in my life,
but I kept saying to myself, 'You gotta believe.'"
     He picked it up from Father Feehan, his baseball coach at St. Vincent's
High in Vallejo, Calif.  "He would always say, 'You gotta (sic) believe in
yourself.'  He's dead now, but I still talk to him.  In my dreams."
     McGraw had been having fun with the fans that night of July 11.  Then M.
Donald Grant, chairman of the board of the Mets, called a clubhouse meeting.
     "He need almost the same words I had been using (sic)," Tug said.  "He
told us we had to believe in ourselves.  That's when I shouted, 'You gotta
beeeleeeeeeve.'  I was afraid Mr. Grant might think I was mocking him, so I
had a talk with him and told him I wasn't making fun at him."
     Soon, McGraw's "you gotta beeee-leeeeeeeeeeeeeevvvvvvve" became the
team's rallying cry, and last week in Shea, when the Mets were driving to the
top of the NL East, two nuns showed up carrying a sign that said: "You Gotta

    There are errors here--the M. Donald Grant meeting wasn't July 11th.  The
meeting was July 9th and reported on July 10th--and I didn't see YGB!  The
Mets were in first on September 21, Phil Pepe called it "unbelievable" on
September 22, and the nuns came out with a "You Got to Believe" (not "You
Gotta Believe") banner on September 23.
   If Tug McGraw had been saying it all along since July 9th or July 11th,
why didn't it show up in July, August, or September stories?


"There isn't enough mustard in the whole world to cover that hot dog."
   --On Reggie Jackson in 1974, widely quoted
"Knowles, Darold" entry in Paul Dickson's BASEBALL'S GREATEST QUOTATIONS, pg.

     "Said Darold Knowles, 'There isn't enough mustard in the United States
to cover that hot dog.  Every player in the league laughs at him, but as long
as he does what he does what he can do, I don't care if he craps on the
    --Larry Merchant column on "Reggie," THE SPORTING NEWS, 22 October 1973,
pg. 46, col. 5.

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