Yo La Tengo!
This past Friday I went to see The National play at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston. They were really good; in fact, I’d say it was probably the best concert I’ve ever been to. Granted, I’ve only been to six or seven concerts, but still. Anyway, the opening act was a band called Yo La Tengo. They’ve actually been around since the mid-80’s, but I’d never really heard of them. They weren’t bad, but probably the most interesting thing about these guys is their name, which is Spanish for “I have it.” I looked up the band on Wikipedia to see why they had chosen such an unusual name. Turns out, it’s a pretty funny anecdote about the name.
So during the 1962 baseball season, the New York Mets had two outfielders, Richie Ashburn and Elio Chacon, who kept running into each other in the outfield. The problem was one of communication. Chacon spoke only Spanish, and was completely oblivious to Ashburn’s calls of “I got it! I got it!” in the outfield. Eventually, the team had a meeting and determined that all outfielders should call out “Yo la tengo!” to indicate they were going for a fly ball.
A few games later, a batter hit a fly ball. Ashburn ran towards it, shouting “Yo la tengo! Yo la tenog!” He relaxed as he saw Chacon backing off and settled under the ball. As he positioned himself for the catch, he was promptly run over by left fielder Frank Thomas, who spoke no Spanish and had missed the team meeting about the new outfield signs. After the two gathered themselves, Thomas asked Ashburn “What the heck is a yellow tango?”