McGee: Yastrzemski’s last game, an adieu redux

From SABR member Bob McGee at The National Pastime Museum on June 16, 2014:

My Uncle John and his father Joseph picked me up in Bay Ridge, in the shadow of the rising Brooklyn tower of the Verrazano, a heart-thumping excursion to my first game: a cloudy, rain-threatened Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium in 1961. I was nine years old. Frankie Frisch and Zack Wheat—yes, Zack Wheat—were there; the Yankees beat the Orioles, 5–4, on the strength of an eighth-inning home run by Yogi. Meanwhile, up in Boston, a rookie sat in the locker room while the ground crew never took up the tarp, the game postponed on account of rain. His name was Carl Yastrzemski. He had already played in 94 Major League games, had 93 Major League hits, including six home runs, good for a .255 batting average. Not bad for a rookie off a Long Island potato farm.

Carl Yastrzemski. Saw him on the field so many times. Rooted against him. I remember a hot August day in 1967, shirt and sandals off, outstretched on the flaking, pale green paint of Yankee Stadium’s flat-slat, left-center field wooden bleachers. Yastrzemski, in gray flannel, stood in the batter’s box 500 feet away. He struck a long, opposite field, line-drive extra base hit bouncing our way in the days when Death Valley was 457 feet, while generally making a mockery of Yankee pitching that day. In the midst of Yastrzemski’s drive to a triple crown and a Bosox pennant, the Yankees, then at their nadir, lost both games.           

In the mid-1970s, I went to live in Maine. I remember when a neighbor, Curt Bartram, walked into my kitchen in Bangor during the September ’78 pennant race, the one that ended in a dead heat and a memorable playoff game, talking of what he had seen on television an inning before, with Boston playing up in Toronto. Yaz had been knocked down, picked himself out of the dirt, and on the next pitch, hit a triple off the wall. His teammates stranded him at third base.

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Originally published: June 17, 2014. Last Updated: June 17, 2014.