Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day 175: Yaz Gets a Statue.

The Boston Red Sox honored one of their greats before Sunday's game with a statue outside the right field gate. Carl Yastrzemski, a name synonymous with the Red Sox, played in Boston his entire 23-year career. And today, he was honored with a bronze statue which replicated a tip of the cap—a gesture that Yaz gave the crowd after his final at bat in 1983.

I wasn't born when he had his Triple Crown season in 1967, but as a kid, he fast became one of my favs. Two key moments stand out in my memory: hit #3,000 and his retirement.

On September 12, 1979, he recorded his 3,000th hit and became just the 15th major league player to achieve this feat. He also became the first American League player to reach 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. The hit came against the Yankees (fitting) and South Portland High alum, Jim Beattie. I hung the newspaper story on my bedroom wall where it remained for years.

When he retired in 1983, it was like someone stole my best friend. (Although I'm pretty sure Yaz was definitely not BFF material.) It was the first time I experienced one of my favorite Red Sox players retiring. Sure... some had left for other teams... I'm looking at you Rick Burleson and Fred Lynn... but this was the first time one actually stopped playing baseball. I was devastated.

Looking back, Yaz had such an amazing career. He was an 18-time All-Star and a 7-time Gold Glove winner. He won the Triple Crown in 1967—an accomplishment that didn't happen again until just last year when Detroit's Miguel Cabrera won it. Yaz was also named MVP that year.

Yastrzemski, not known for being emotional, was obviously touched by the gesture.
"It means tremendous importance to me," he said, standing at the base of the statue after a 30-minute ceremony. "This is as important to me as being elected to the Hall of Fame and having my number retired. It's a tremendous honor."
I wonder what Yaz's beard would look like if he played on this team?

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