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Carl Michael Yastrzemski (pronounced [jəˈstrɛmski] with silent "z") (born August 22, 1939) was an American Major League Baseball player. He had a 23-year career spent entirely with the Boston Red Sox. Primarily a left fielder, he played some first base and served as a designated hitter as he aged.
Yastrzemski was born in Southampton, New York to Carl Yastrzemski, Sr. and Hattie Skonieczny. Raised on his father's potato farm, "Yaz" attended Notre Dame briefly before embarking on his baseball career, signing with the Red Sox organization, which sent him to the minor-league Raleigh Capitals in 1959, where he led the league with a .377 batting average, then moved him to the Minneapolis Millers for the post-season and the 1960 season. He began his major-league career in 1961. From the beginning, there was tremendous pressure on him to perform, as he succeeded to the position of Sox legend Ted Williams. He would prove to be a worthy successor at the plate, and a far superior defensive player.
is a member of
Hall of Fame
His first two years were viewed as solid but unspectacular. However, he emerged as a rising star in 1963, winning the American League batting championship with a batting average of .321, and also leading the league in doubles and walks.
Yastrzemski enjoyed his best season in 1967, when he won the American League Triple Crown with a .326 batting average, 44 home runs (tied with Harmon Killebrew) and 121 RBI. He is the last hitter to date to have won the Triple Crown, winning it one year after Frank Robinson (five different pitchers have since won the pitchers' version). He was voted Most Valuable Player almost unanimously (one voter frivously chose César Tovar of the Twins).
1967 was the season of the "Impossible Dream" for the Red Sox (referring to the hit song from the musical play Man of La Mancha), who rebounded from a ninth-place finish a year before to win the American League pennant. With the Red Sox battling as part of a four-team pennant race, Yastrzemski collected 13 hits in 21 at bats (a .619 batting average)over the last six games of the season. The Red Sox lost the World Series four games to three to the St. Louis Cardinals, losing three times to Bob Gibson. In that season, Yastrzemski also won the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year and Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award. Yastrzemski was one of baseball'sost popular players during his long career.
In 1968 Yastrzemski again won the batting championship. Because of the competitive advantages pitchers enjoyed between 1963 and 1968 (prior to the lowering of the pitcher's mound), Yastrzemski's .301 mark in "The Year of the Pitcher" is the lowest average of any batting champion in major league history. He had many more strong seasons, consistently finishing in the top ten in the league in many statistical categories.
In 1969, he hit the first of 2 straight 40-home run seasons as he led the Red Sox to third-place finishes that year and the next. Yaz got four hits and won the All-Star Game MVP in 1970, although the American League lost. His .329 batting average that season was his career high. He hit but 61 homers over the next four years as the Red Sox finished second twice and third twice.
Yastrzemski and the Boston Red Sox would suffer another World Series loss in 1975, losing four games to three to the Cincinnati Reds. Yaz made the final out in Game 7 on a fly out to center, trailing by one run. Coincidentally, he also made the final out of the 1978 AL East division one-game playoff with a foul pop to third base. This game featured Bucky Dent's famous shocking homer (although Reggie Jackson's home run was the eventual winning run). It should be pointed out that earlier in the game, Yastrzemski hit a homer off left handed pitcher Ron Guidry who was having a career year (25 wins, 3 loses and a 1.74 ERA). Veteran Yastrzemski began the scoring with a home run off Guidry in the second, the only homer the Cy Young Award winner allowed to a left-hander all season.
Yastrzemski retired in 1983 at the age of 44. No player has had a longer career with only one team, 23 seasons, a record which he shares with Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles, although Yastrzemski's 25 years were full years, and he had many more roster days than Brooks Robinson His final career statistics include 3,308 games played (second all-time), 452 home runs, 1,844 RBI (5 more than Ted Williams), and a batting average of .285. He had 1,845 walks in his career, sixth all-time. Yaz was the first player to ever collect over 3,000 hits and 400 home runs solely in the American League, the feat has since been accomplished by Cal Ripken Jr.
Yaz was well known for his batting stance, holding his bat exceptionally high, giving his swing a large, dramatic arc, and more power at the plate. However, in his later years, he adjusted his stance and held the bat lower.
An eighteen-time All-Star, Yastrzemski was an outstanding defensive player. He mastered the art of playing the tricky bounces that result from line drives hitting Fenway's Green Monster, and won seven Gold Glove Awards in his career.
A record album of the Red Sox's 1967 season, aptly titled "The Impossible Dream", featured a song of praise for "The man they call Yaz", which included the line "Although 'Yastrzemski' is a lengthy name / It fits quite nicely in our Hall of Fame". As one of the top players of his era, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 by the BBWAA in his first year of eligibility, along with Johnny Bench, with the support of 94% of voters.
In his career with the Red Sox, he wore uniform number 8 from start to finish. The Red Sox retired this number after Yaz was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1989. He is currently a roving instructor with the Red Sox.
On August 19, 2008, Yastrzemski was hospitalized at Mass General Hospital for tests after experiencing chest pains. His spokesman, Dick Gordon, when asked if the situation was serious answered, "Any time you are in the hospital, it's got to be pretty serious." Yastrzemski had open heart surgery in the summer of 2009.
Regular season statsEdit
- Magazine covers
- List of major league players with 2,000 hits
- Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
|American League Batting Champion|
|American League Triple Crown|
|American League Most Valuable Player|
|American League Batting Champion|
|Major League Baseball All-Star Game|
Most Valuable Player
- Carl Yastrzemski Official Site
- Yastrzemski's career statistics on the Baseball Almanac site
- Carl Yastrzemski's Hall of Fame Plaque
- Carl Yastrzemski's Hall of Fame biography
- Yastrzemski's career statistics on the Baseball Library site
- Yastrzemski's career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- Yastrzemski rated among the Top 10 Leftie Homerun Hitters