The new documentary "IT AIN'T OVER" is an intimate and revealing portrait of Yankees legend Yogi Berra
Sony Pictures Classics will release Sean Mullin’s Yogi Berra documentary, IT AIN’T OVER, in New York tri-state and Los Angeles theaters on May 12, 2023 before expanding over the following weeks.
The film is produced by Natalie Metzger, Matt Miller, Peter Sobiloff, and Mike Sobiloff with Vanishing Angle and Off Media, and executive produced by Lindsay Berra. It made its world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in the Spotlight Documentary section.
IT AIN’T OVER is an intimate portrait of Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, one of baseball’s greatest superstars. As the brilliant catcher for the most storied franchise in Major League Baseball history, he amassed 10 World Series rings, three American League MVP awards, and a staggering 18 All-Star Game appearances. A native of St. Louis who saw combat in World War II, he resumed his baseball career during the golden era in New York when three teams battled for supremacy, going on to catch the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956. Yet for many observers of the national pastime, his prolific accomplishments on the ball field were overshadowed by his extraordinarily appealing personality.
Sean Mullin and Lindsay Berra joined SportsJam with Doug Doyle to talk about the film that began in 2019. Mullin says after looking into the life of the Yankees legend, he quickly learned why Yogi's story needed to be told to a wide audience.
"For a long time, the projects I tend to get involved with typically deal with characters or institutions that have some sort of disconnect between the perception and reality. And so, when it came to Yogi Berra, I was first approached by two of the producers of the film, they had a connection to the Berra Family through the golf charity events. When they asked me to direct this, I initially thought well Yogi Berra seems to be perfect, what's the movie? What's the drama? But I started digging a little deeper and I immediately found out he was criminally overlooked in every stage of his life, from childhood to his final days. So I thought that was a really good 'in' for the story. This kind of idea that society kind of refused to view him anything other than a caricature, but really he was just an incredible ball player and even more impressive as a human being."
Long before athletes endorsing products became commonplace, Yogi was starring in TV commercials and connecting with fans from every demographic. His unforgettable “Yogi-isms”, initially perceived as head-scratching philosophical nuggets, became fashionable catch phrases that made him a national treasure and endearing figure on the American pop culture landscape. IT AIN’T OVER is a compelling, entertaining, and thrilling biography that takes a deeper dive, revealing a loving husband and father, D-Day veteran, Hall of Fame ballplayer, beloved teammate, coach, manager, product endorser, and originator (mostly) of his own brand of proverbs that are now ingrained into everyday life.
Woven into the documentary are interviews with a lineup of men and women whose paths intersected with Yogi and produced unforgettable memories. Yankee legends Derek Jeter, Joe Torre, Mariano Rivera, Joe Girardi, Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, Don Mattingly, Tony Kubek, and Bobby Richardson share first-person accounts, along with friends and family, including Billy Crystal, Bob Costas, the late Vin Scully, Suzyn Waldman, Lindsay Berra (Yogi’s granddaughter), and sons Tim, Larry, and Dale.
One of the most touching moments in the film is when Lindsay Berra reads portions of her grandfather's love letters that he wrote to his wife Carmen. Lindsay agrees that was a key part of the movie.
"I get teary-eyed every time I read those love letters so it makes me happy that they are hitting everybody else in that same emotional way. It was so important to us to include that love story between my Grammy Carmen and my Grandpa Yogi. They were married for 65 years and he was a wonderful husband to her. She was an amazing wife to him. He was just a tremendous family man, father to my dad and uncles and grandfather to the eleven of us that got to call him Grandpa. It was really important to us, as we were making the movie, to show that side of Grandpa as a normal, loving, kind and compassionate human being, but I also say that really the guy we got at home, was the same guy you all saw on the baseball field and on television. He was the same with everybody."
Yogi was the "connector and glue" to several eras of great Yankees baseball. Director Sean Mullin thinks that's also what makes his story so unique.
"From the baseball side of things, that thing that I've tried to get across is that a lot of times when we talk about Yankee legacy, they talk about Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle and they kind of gloss over Berra, and so I want him to secure his kind of rightful place in that chain. But even more so I don't know if there's been a player in the history of baseball who has been so influential in many key eras and to so many key players. Yogi Berra is a man who met Babe Ruth right before Babe passed. He was mentored by (Joe) DiMaggio, played along side (Mickey) Mantle all of those years. He ended up coaching the "Bronx Zoo" years with (Ron) Guidry and (Reggie) Jackson and that whole crew and then mentored (Derek) Jeter and A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) and all those guys. So who else has that span of influence in the history of baseball? I don't think anyone."
As a D-Day veteran, Yogi was honored with the Purple Heart, United States Navy (World War II). He was inducted in National Baseball Hall of Fame (1972, Cooperstown, NY). He was honored by President Barak Obama in 2015 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom . His United States Postage Stamp was made public in 2021.
Lindsay Berra says what matters the most to her is that people remember her grandfather for how good he was on the baseball field but at the end of the day, she stresses as good as he was as a baseball player, he was a better human being.
"He lived this incredibly rich and full life as a first-generation Italian immigrant who volunteered to serve his country during the D-Day invasion (on Normandy Beach) and was lucky enough to come home when so many other men did not come home from World War II. I think that just gave him this incredible perspective. We talk today about practicing gratitude. I don't think Grandpa had to practice gratitude. I think he was eternally grateful every day for the fact that he came home from the war and got this chance to be a grown man playing a kid's game for a living for the rest of his life. And then got a chance to get married and have kids and live this wonderful life."
Yogi Berra died on September 22, 2015. The wonderful Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center is located on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, New Jersey.
You can see the entire SportsJam interview with Lindsay Berra and Sean Mullin here.