Yaz lifted Sox
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Yaz won Triple Crown
By Bob Carter
Special to ESPN.com
Oct. 1, 1967 - Seven seasons hadn't prepared Carl Yastrzemski's emotions for the final weekend of 1967 and a chance for the pennant. A nervous Yaz couldn't sleep so he drove his car around at night, then walked a golf course at 3 a.m.
His Boston Red Sox had beaten the Minnesota Twins 6-4 yesterday at Fenway Park, thanks to his three-run homer. To win their first title in 21 years, they needed another victory today (which would eliminate the Twins) and a Detroit loss in its doubleheader against California.
Yaz let a hit go through his legs in left for an error that helped the Twins take a 2-0 lead. "I felt awful," he said, "like I goofed the whole world up."
But he rebounded with a 4-for-4 performance, tying the game at 2-2 with a bases-loaded single in a five-run sixth inning. In the seventh, Minnesota's Bob Allison drove a hit toward the leftfield corner to score one run and advance another runner to third. Allison, the tying run, tried for second. Yaz quickly retrieved the ball and threw him out, cutting the rally short.
The Red Sox won 5-3 and listened on radio as Detroit lost the second game of its doubleheader, giving Boston the pennant. "Do we finally get a chance to drink the champagne?" Yaz asked. Indeed they did.
Odds 'n' Ends
Yastrzemski was president of his class in his freshman and senior years at Bridgehampton (N.Y.) High School.
In February 1957, Yaz became the first Suffolk County public school basketball player to score 1,000 points in his career. That year he also set a Long Island high school record for most points in a season, 628.
During the summers of his high school years, Yaz played with his father on local baseball teams.
Yastrzemski played six-man football in his sophomore year of high school, but his father made him stop because he thought the sport was too dangerous. His father caught him sneaking to practice the next season and pulled him off the field.
His one season with the Notre Dame freshman baseball team was unexciting. The team didn't play a competitive schedule, only intrasquad games and contests against the varsity.
The Yankees fell out of the bidding for Yaz early when they offered him a reported $40,000 bonus, far below what his father was seeking. He signed with Boston for $100,000.
Vic Wertz, watching Yaz in his first big-league workout in Arizona, noticed Yastrzemski's running ability. "That speed will get him 15 to 20 hits a year," Wertz said.
Yastrzemski's first hit in the majors came off Kansas City Athletics righthander Ray Herbert on April 11, 1961.
Yaz's 96 strikeouts as a rookie in 1961 would be a career-high.
Though Yaz batted .312 in 1965, the Red Sox had one of their worst seasons (62-100). It was the franchise's first 100-loss season since 1932.
That year, he hit for the cycle in a game, the only time he accomplished the feat.
When Satchel Paige, 59, pitched three innings for Kansas City against Boston in 1965, Yaz doubled off him. A decade earlier, his father had tripled off Paige in a barnstorming game on Long Island.
Yaz, who had studied business at Notre Dame, fulfilled a promise to his parents by finishing his degree at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., in 1966.
In 1967, new manager Dick Williams decided there would be no team captain, taking the role from Yastrzemski, who was pleased. "I didn't want to be captain," Yaz said. "I had my own problems."
After his memorable 1967 season, Yaz was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, the AP's Male Athlete of the Year and won the Hickok Belt as Professional Athlete of the Year.
Yaz got 19 of 20 votes for the AL MVP award that year. The other vote went to the Twins' Cesar Tovar from a Minneapolis writer.
Yastrzemski lost the 1970 batting title on the final day, finishing at .3286 to the .3289 of California's Alex Johnson.
Yaz made the last out of Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, flying out off the Cincinnati Reds' Will McEnaney.
In 1979, Yaz hit his 400th homer, off Oakland's Mike Morgan.
Reflecting on his career in his final season of 1983: "I never had any fun. All hard work all the time. I let the game dominate me."
Yaz hit .294 in 13 All-Star Games.
Little League Baseball began in 1939, and Yastrzemski was the first Little Leaguer voted into the Hall of Fame.
In the 22 biggest games of his career, according to ESPN's Peter Gammons, Yaz hit .414, had a .702 slugging percentage and averaged over an RBI per game. The 22 are games he played for a pennant in 1967, 1972 and 1975; the 1975 ALCS; and the 1967 and 1975 World Series.
Yaz is the only player who ranks in the top 10 all-time in hits, but never had a 200-hit season. His high was 191 in 1962, his second year.
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