(4) Mark Twain vs. (13) Yogi Berra
(4) Mark Twain
Scores of writers have spent their whole lives trying to pen The Great American Novel. Twain may have done it several times. Adventures of Huck Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are still required reading, but Twain wasn't just a writer and humorist. He also created a number of inventions, including a set of detachable garment straps, and befriended Nikola Tesla. Perhaps fellow genius contemporary Thomas Edison put it best: "An average American loves his family. If he has any love left over for some other person, he generally selects Mark Twain."
(13) Yogi Berra
He may be known as baseball's top joker, but on the field, the Yankee catcher was nothing short of brilliant: 15 All-Star appearances, 3 AL MVP trophies, 10 World Series rings, and a place in the Hall of Fame. He may have had an even bigger impact off the field, though. During Berra's career, his friend Frank Scott visited Berra and noticed the quotable catcher had a drawer full of wristwatches. Berra explained that he got the watches for making public appearances. Scott convinced Yogi that he could probably negotiate better payments for the player's appearances. And with that, Yogi Berra became the first baseball player ever to have an agent. He's not just a sound bite and a strong bat.
This is undoubtedly the most quotable of our first-round matchups, so let's allow the two wordsmiths to weigh in on genius and learning. Twain: "Genius has no youth, but starts with the ripeness of age and old experience." Berra: "You can observe a lot just by watching."
[See the whole bracket here.]