Monday, December 26, 2016

Loyalty and Longevity Pt. 6: Carl Yastrzemski

In this series, I look at players who played their entire Major League career with the Red Sox, as long as said Major League career lasted at least ten years.
I have covered Yaz fairly extensively on this blog.  And with good reason.  It is hard to have a blog devoted to the Red Sox without covering a player like Yastrzemski.  He is after all the team leader in a ton of categories and the longest tenured player in team history.
Yaz was the son of a potato farmer who also played a lot of amateur baseball.  He was groomed for most of his life to be a baseball player and grew up a Yankees fan.  However, his father refused to allow him to sign a contract with the Yankees after the scout threw a pencil in disgust after his father suggested a signing bonus of $100,000.00.  Yaz ended up signing with the Red Sox for $108,000.00 in 1958 and was brought to Spring Training to learn from Ted Williams in 1960.  He did not play in the Majors that season and was originally brought up as a second-baseman, but Boston planned to move him to left field to replace Williams.
He played a full season in his debut season of 1961, but Yaz was not the best rookie on the team.  Pitcher Don Schwall won the Rookie of the Year and Chuck Schilling had a very good season as well.  It was a couple of years before Yaz started to look like the player he would become.  He started to show some power by hitting 43 doubles and 19 homers in 1962, but he had his first great season the next year.  That year, he led the league in hits, doubles, walks, batting average, and on-base percentage.  He was an All Star for the first time.
1967 was an iconic year for the Red Sox in general, and Yastrzemski in particular.  He won the Triple Crown and quite possibly had the best offensive season in team history.  He was incredible in the clutch, catching fire in the last week of the season and hitting .400 with three home runs in the World Series.  Yaz was the easy choice for MVP but he was not the unanimous choice.  For some baffling reason, a Twins player named Cesar Tovar received a first place vote, the only one Yaz did not get.
Yaz had a couple more dominant seasons and then entered a different phase of his career in 1971.  From then on, he was a very good, sometimes great player, but was the elder statesman of the Red Sox.  He started playing more first base and designated hitter and was still capable of hitting home runs, but he would never hit more than 30 again and he never again hit .300 after 1974.  He did continue to go to All Star Games (he won the MVP in 1970), and he racked up the hits.  
Carl Yastrzemski retired after the 1983 season.  He spent 23 seasons in the Major Leagues, all of them with the Red Sox.  He is one of the longest tenured players to spend his entire career with one organization.  He is the team record holder in a number of categories and remains the only Red Sox player to record his 3,000th hit with Boston.  He is one of the greatest players of all time and an easy choice for the Hall of Fame in 1989.


  1. My all-time favorite player and the reason I'm a Red Sox fan.

  2. Wish I was slightly older to know Yaz as more than "That old looking guy on the team."