Thursday, March 17, 2011

#385 Carl Yastrzemski

#385 Carl Yastrzemski
You know you're a diehard baseball fan when you can spell "Yastrzemski" from memory. I love this photo of Yaz, but I'm not really sure how raising his throwing arm up in the air helps him catch fly balls.

Fun facts about Carl Yastrzemski:

-Carl was born in Southampton, NY and briefly attended Notre Dame on a basketball scholarship before signing with the Red Sox in 1958.

-He spent only two years in the minors before replacing the great Ted Williams as Boston's starting left fielder in 1961. The 21-year-old batted .266 with 80 RBI and led the Sox with 31 doubles as a rookie.

-His third season (1963) was a year of firsts for Yaz: first batting title (.321), on-base percentage crown (.418), doubles crown (40), and first Gold Glove and All-Star selection. He would be a 7-time Gold Glover and 18-time All-Star when all was said and done.

-Carl's greatest season was the 1967 "Impossible Dream" campaign, when he was a near-unanimous MVP (some joker gave a first-place vote to Cesar Tovar and his .691 OPS) and led Boston from a ninth-place finish the year before to the American League pennant. He captured the most recent hitting Triple Crown to date with a .326 average, a career-high 44 home runs, and 121 RBI. He also topped the A.L. with 112 runs scored, a .418 OBP, .622 SLG, and 360 total bases. With the Red Sox battling the Tigers, Twins, and White Sox in a four-way race down the stretch, he hit .523 (23-for-44) with 14 runs, 4 doubles, 5 home runs, 16 RBI, and 8 walks in the final dozen games of the regular season.

-In a losing cause in the 1967 World Series, he batted .400 (10-for-25) with a .500 OBP and 3 home runs against the Cardinals. He powered Sox wins in Game Two (3-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and Game Six (3-for-4, HR, BB).

-In the notoriously pitcher-dominant 1968 season, he captured his third batting crown with a .301 average, as no other American League regular topped .300. He also was the leading on-base man in the A.L. at .426; it was the fourth of his five OBP titles.

-The Red Sox, in the midst of their much-lamented 86-year championship drought, made the World Series only twice during Carl's career. He hit .350 during the 1975 postseason but flew out to Cesar Geronimo in center field for the final out of the deciding Game 7 of that year's World Series. Three years later, his foul pop to Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles stranded the tying and winning runs in the Bucky Dent game, giving the Yanks the A. L. East title. When the Sox finally captured the World Series in 2004, they had Yaz and Johnny Pesky raise the championship banner the following April.

-Yaz was remarkably durable, playing 23 full seasons in Boston (only Brooks Robinson had as long a career with just one team) and turning in an OPS+ under 100 just twice: as a rookie in 1961 and at age 41 in the strike-shortened 1981 season. The latter year was the only one in which he failed to play 100 games.

-He retired after the 1983 season with a .285 career average, .379 on-base percentage, and .462 slugging. He totaled 452 home runs and 1,844 RBI. Carl is still in the top ten all-time in defensive WAR (19.9 - 7th), games played (3,308 - 2nd), hits (3,419 - 8th), total bases (5,539 - 8th), doubles (646 - 8th), walks (1,845 - 6th), and assists by a left fielder (177 - 1st - it is often said that no one played the ball off of Fenway's Green Monster better than him).

-Yaz was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989, his first year of eligibility. That summer his #8 was retired by the Red Sox.
#385 Carl Yastrzemski (back)


  1. Yaz=Greatness... even though he was a Red Sox.

  2. Easily one of the best cards in the set.

  3. Actually, before the era of huge gloves, people were taught to use their other hand in catching fly balls. It still makes me cringe a little when I see outfielders using one hand so nonchalantly. Also, you might use it to warn other outfielders off (although you should also speak). So, I don't think Yaz's pose is that awful, at least for that time period.

  4. How long ago was that? That's certainly how I was taught and I didn't think I was that old.... :)

    I love this blog, btw. Part of my daily reading.

  5. Bob - Well, when you were growing up, the Red Sox weren't as despised as they are now, right?

    Greg - Agreed. I think Casey Stengel is #1, though.

    Marc - I understand that, but it still seems like his hands are farther apart than would be practical.

    1967 - Thanks! Glad to have you.

    1. I didn't know the Red Sox are despised. I thought the Red Sox are beloved and the Yankees are despised.

  6. "The Boston team is really on the beam because we got Yaz..."