Carl YastrzemskiCarl Michael Yastrzemski
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1989
Primary team: Boston Red Sox
Primary position: Left Fielder
"They can talk about Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby and Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial and all the rest, but I'm sure not one of them could hold cards and spades to (Ted) Williams in his sheer knowledge of hitting," Carl Yastrzemski said. "He studied hitting the way a broker studies the stock market, and could spot at a glance mistakes that others couldn't see in a week."
It's not easy following in Williams' footsteps, but that's exactly what Yastrzemski had to do as a rookie for Boston in 1961. Williams' final season was in 1960 and Yaz stepped right in as a 21-year-old rookie in 1961.
Yastrzemski was raised in Southhampton, N.Y. by Polish parents on a family potato farm. He briefly attended Notre Dame on a basketball scholarship before signing a professional baseball contract for $100,000.
Originally a second baseman in the minors, Yaz moved to left field when Williams vacated the spot for the 1961 season. He was solid but unspectacular in his first two seasons, but really broke out in 1963 when he made his first all-star game and led the league with a .321 batting average.
Yastrzemski was well-known for his batting stance, in which he held his bat high in the air, giving his swing a large, dramatic arc, and more power at the plate. However, in his later years, he adjusted his stance and held the bat lower. He was also known for modifying his batting helmets by enlarging the right ear hole for comfort and removing part of the right ear flap for better vision of the ball as it was being pitched.
Yastrzemski spent his entire 23-year career in Boston, where he was an 18-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner. In 1967, he won the American League Triple Crown, becoming just the 16th player to lead his respective league in batting average, home runs and RBIs. Yaz was named the American League MVP that year as well. Yastrzemski led the league in hitting three times during his career and hit for the cycle once, on May 14, 1965.
In 1979, Yastrzemski became first American League player to record more than 3,000 hits and more than 400 home runs.
"I'm very pleased and very proud of my accomplishments, but I'm most proud of that," Yastrzemski said. "Not (Ted) Williams, not (Lou) Gehrig, not (Joe) DiMaggio did that. They were Cadillacs and I'm a Chevrolet."
Yastrzemski retired after the 1983 season and was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1989.
"I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning," Yastrzemski said. "I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
Year Inducted: 1989
Primary Team: Boston Red Sox
Position Played: Left Fielder
Birth place: Southampton, New York
Birth year: 1939
Boston Red Sox (1961-1983)
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