Dave Kaplan is the director of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Montclair, N.J. Kaplan has co-authored multiple books with the legendary New York Yankees catcher and American icon.
Sam’s Dream Blog: How did you become the Director of the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center?
Dave Kaplan: When plans for the Museum began in 1997, I was working at the New York Daily News and offered to help any way I could. I thought it would be a neat community project since it was being built in my town of Montclair. One thing led to another and I was asked to be the director. It has certainly been a most challenging and rewarding experience, one I wouldn't trade in for anything.
SDB: You’ve written several books with baseball icon Mr. Berra, including "When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!," "What Time Is It? You Mean Now?," and "You Can Observe a Lot by Watching: What I've Learned about Teamwork from the Yankees and Life." What does it mean to you to have a personal relationship with him?
Dave Kaplan: It's an everyday delight, an honor actually, and something I never take lightly.
SDB: What is it about Mr. Berra that allows him to continue to shine across generations?
Dave Kaplan: He's so authentic and humble, and represents to people all the honorable values that made this country great. He's a man of great character, and it doesn't hurt that he does say some accidentally humorous things from time to time.
SDB: Similarly, how does Mr. Berra demonstrate the "tenets of character education ? respect, responsibility and integrity" mentioned on the museum Web site?
Dave Kaplan: His life is the personification of the American dream. He's the son of immigrants who was always doubted or underestimated. He sacrificed for his country serving in World War II, then he worked hard to improve his skills and became the winningest player in the history of baseball. Throughout his life, he's always made good choices and always been true to himself. As a ballplayer, husband and family man, he's lived an exemplary life.
SDB: What lesson(s) have you learned from working with Mr. Berra?
Dave Kaplan: The importance of being who you are, and the importance of treating people with respect. So much of what our society believes about achievement, fairness and friendship can be learned from Yogi, who's always had the proper perspective about sports and life.