Carl Yastrzemski-Captain Carl-Yaz-Number Eight

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Captain Carl a hero to Cambridge baseball fans

Make no mistake he was the leader of the Boston Red Sox. He did things no other teammate ever did. He only played one year in the minor leagues. He played for Raleigh and batted an unheard of .477. That's very close to one hit for every two at bats.   

Eight years later, Yaz led the upstart impossible dream team to a World Series birth. He won a triple crown. The first Boston player to achieve this since Ted Williams in the 1940's To appreciate just how difficult this feat was, you'd have to know the numbers. His batting average was a lofty .326 He clouted 44 homeruns and to round out the heroic triple crown trophy he led the league in runs batted in. Yaz was one of an elite group of players to hit over 400 homeruns and hit over 3,000base hits.   

But it's not the hits, not the awards, nor even getting to the World Series that we all loved him for. Yaz played most of his career as a sensationally gifted left-fielder. He played the left field wall at Fenway better than anyone, except maybe Ted Williams. But that is good company anyway.

There were three things that Captain Carl did that set him aside from any one that played the left field wall. First he had a knack that he knew where the ball would land after it hit the wall. Most times he would throw out the runner at second base trying to stretch a single into a double. Often times there would be a runner at second base and the hitter would smash a hit to Yaz at left field. Carl would charge the ball and fire a one hop throw to the catcher and bang bang out he was at home plate. Another sensationally great play Yaz would use would be that he would stand up against the left field wall and he would put his hand into the glove as if he were going to catch the ball. the runner slowed down thinking Yaz would easily catch the ball. As the last moment Yaz would dart from the wall, bare hand the ball and fire it to second base where the runner should be, but because of Yaz;s strategy, the runner would be stuck at first base. One last "trick play Captain Carl would use that made me laugh, was that a slugger from the opposing team would smash a  ball that was destined way way over the left field wall. Yaz would get into a crouch position and not even move a muscle as the ball landed onto Lansdowne Street. So much for Captain Carl's defensive schemes.

One oddity that Yaz held was that he won a batting title at an extremely low .301. Yaz played his entire career just for the Red Sox. A feat only done by just a few sports players.

Yaz played left field primarily but also spent time playing third-base and first base when the need arose. He was an unselfish player. What made Yaz the Hall of Famer that he was how he hit in the clutch. There are many examples. What sticks out mainly for me is the final two games of the 1967 impossible dream season. The Red Sox had to win the last two games to make it to the World Series. yaz had the two biggest hits to help the Sox accomplish the first place finish. In the first game he hit a home run to help the first of the two wins. his bases loaded single in game two clinched the World Series birth for the Red Sox.

 

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