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Yogi Berra and the Potatoes

Thanksgiving is two days away, and many people are excitedly thinking of stuffing, turkey legs, and of course, mashed potatoes. Potatoes have always been a vital staple at Thanksgiving, and they were also one of the late Yogi Berra’s favorite foods, and on this date in 1985, Berra received a special gift for Thanksgiving. Around 8 am in freezing rain, a truck pulled up to his house driven by two members of the Red River Valley Potato Growers Association. Inside, it contained 23 tons of North Dakota potatoes which were unloaded in his front yard.

How did the former Yankee’s catcher and manager end up with such a bountiful gift? Well, earlier that year he showed up in Fargo to play in the Roger Maris Golf Tournament. Maris had been his teammate. As it turned out, Vince Lindstrom, the director of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau drove him from the airport to the hotel. On the drive, one of Berra’s first comments was, “My God, it’s so flat out here, what do you grow?” Lindstrom told him potatoes were a big crop. Berra’s response? “You wouldn’t have enough potatoes for my front lawn.” Lindstrom said he would give Berra a sack of potatoes before he left, but that never happened. However, a few months later he told the Potato Growers Association the story and the farmers got to scheming. IN a 2015 interview, Lindstrom told the Grand Forks Herald, “Somebody, maybe after a few drinks, said ‘let's send a truckload of potatoes.’”

And well, that’s what they did. The stunt attracted so much attention that New Jersey’s former Senator, Frank Lautenberg, made an appearance at the scene an episode that even became a question in Trivial Pursuit. However, Midwesterners are not known for being wasteful, so Jon Lindgren, Fargo’s mayor, made a point to call a food bank in New Jersey to donate any potatoes Berra and his neighbors didn’t want.

As far as we know, all the potatoes made their way to someone’s stomach, and even if they didn’t, they surely made their place in history.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas






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