Celebrating Boston Red Sox baseball great Carl Yastrzemski.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yaz at Flagler College

Q&A courtesy of the Florida Times-Union.

Q: What has [Red Sox manager] Terry Francona done to make the difference with the team the past four years?

He's a ballplayers' manager. He rolls with everything and never gets upset. I think he brings a lot of calmness to the team and has done a tremendous job. Two World Series [titles] in four years ... how can you do any better?

Q: What's the recent success by the Red Sox meant to the fans?

After the first one, they kind expect it. I expect another one next year.

Q: What's the most difficult part of winning a Triple Crown, especially in this era?

Putting all three together is very tough. Winning the home runs and RBI [titles], that kind of happens. Mixing in the batting average is the most difficult part.

Q: What's your take on the Mitchell Report and the issue of performance-enhancing substances in baseball?

I think we just have to wait and see. In the minor leagues, they've been testing for quite a while, and I work with minor-league hitters, and I don't see any evidence of that with the kids in the minors. The whole thing has been kind of surprising, but let's just wait and see.

Q: How much did you work out and what kind of supplements, if anything, did you take during your career?

I took vitamins, sure. ... It was a different era. I used to work out, take two weeks off, work out some more during the winter, and if you were lucky, you only put on about three or four pounds before spring training.

Q: Do your records and those of other players in your era mean more, now that it has been discovered that so many of the top hitters in the game in recent years used performance-enhancing drugs?

Records are funny. A good friend of mine, Dwight Evans, worked hard for 20 years, and retired 28th on the [career] home run list. He's now in oblivion. I can't comprehend hitting 70, or even 60 home runs. When I hit 44, that was tremendous. Maybe if I had played in Yankee Stadium, I could see myself hitting 50 or 55 home runs, but 60 or 70? I can't comprehend that.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Roof Shot!

Occasionally you'll hear a conversation from the row behind you at Fenway Park that goes like this:

"Hey Sully, did anyone ever hit a ball over those retired numbers out on the face of the right field roof?"

"Aw, shu-wah, Sully II, Jodge Brett did it twice, and ah cahse, Teddy Bahlgame used to do it about every utha night, pal."

And you think to yourself, "nobody could ever reach that roof. If anyone ever had, surely we would have heard about it from some real source."

A few months ago, though, I read something on-line about Carl Yastrzemski once hitting the facade of the right field roof.

This dude, who claims to have been there, said:

the Sox tore into the Yankees to set a three game record of sixteen homeruns. Sixteen. Fan-tastic! One of them a Yaz bomb down the right field line off the facade. To this day it’s the highest home run I’ve ever seen. Ever.

And someone on this board said:

Carl Yastrzemski is the only person to ever hit the grandstand facade in RF - the ball was still going up when it hit. He just missed becoming the first to ever hit one out of Fenway to right.

The first guy says it was a high fly. The second guy says it was still going up, which would mean the ball would've probably gone at least 700 feet, so I tend to think that's bullshit. In fact, I didn't believe either person, as, again, how could this fact have avoided me? I asked some other big Sox fans who are older than I am, and they'd never heard of this either.

Solve the mystery of whether Yaz ever really did hit a ball off the roof of Fenway with "A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory".

Monday, January 07, 2008

Devereaux Meadows

A northeast Raleigh land grab could lead to the development of offices and shops on a downtown tract that was once known for the development of baseball players.

The city paid Jack Parker Corp. of New York $11.9 million for 39 acres off Raleigh Boulevard, northeast of the intersection of U.S. 1 and Interstate 440.

The land would be instrumental in freeing up another piece of dirt: the former site of the Devereaux Meadow ballpark, where area college and minor league players such as Carl Yastrzemski stopped on the way to big-league stardom.

That narrow 16.8-acre site runs along the western edge of Capital Boulevard to the northern edge of Peace Street. It's a few blocks east of downtown's bustling Glenwood South entertainment district.

In 1980, years after the last pitch had been thrown at Devereaux Meadow, the city moved its fleet of garbage trucks to the site. The trucks are still there, along with street plows and a maintenance garage.

Yaz played at Devereaux Meadows with the Raleigh Capitals of the Carolina League. They say he hit a ball out of the park and into traffic on Downtown Blvd. The field was torn down in 1979.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pot Pie with Pesky

Johnny Pesky can still remember his favorite dish from the original New Hampshire Baseball Dinner in Manchester, a winter tradition started in 1947 by Leo Cloutier, former New Hampshire Sunday News sports editor.

"Chicken pot pie, and it was delicious," Pesky said. "I used to go up there every year with (former Boston infielder) Eddie Pellagrini, and we had a great time."

The 88-year-old Pesky -- just call him Mr. Red Sox -- is the latest name on the guest list for the 2008 Granite State Baseball Dinner, hosted by the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Jan. 11.

Pesky will join Cy Young Award winners Chris Carpenter and Pat Hentgen, along with Jim Rice, Rico Petrocelli, Rich Gedman and many others at the Manchester National Guard Armory, site of the happening dinner a half-century ago.

"We used to have 1,000 people in there. Fans in New Hampshire always think you're the greatest thing since sliced bread," Pesky said.

More than 600 tickets have been sold at $60 apiece -- and plenty of tickets are still available. Proceeds benefit the Fisher Cats Foundation and the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth.

Pesky, a shortstop for the 1946 American League champs, remembers attending the famous baseball dinner with Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Mays and other greats. Vida Blue, Bob Feller, Carlton Fisk, Jackie Robinson and Pete Rose are just some of the names.

"You need a book to remember some of the guys who've been there through the years," Pesky said. "Leo really started something. He did a hell of a job."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


The number "8" has a rich heritage. Many choose it as their favorite numeral. Perhaps it's the elegant shape of the thing.

Eight wears a lot of meanings, some of them conflicting. It's a lucky number in China, but if you're "behind the eight ball" here, you're in trouble.

Because the figure eight is a loop, the number is sometimes used as a code word for crazy, as in loopy, and a "Section 8" in the army is a discharge for being mentally unfit. However, in Tarot, card No. 8 means "strength," and when laid down on its side, the number 8 represents "infinity" in the world of physics. Chess, with its eight pawns and eight-by-eight squares on the board, is widely regarded as the ultimate game.

The numeral 8 was originally written in ancient India in the shape of an H, which happens to be the eighth letter of our alphabet.

The word for eight comes from the Greek and Latin root "octo," prompting one to ask why then is October the tenth month of the year? It used to be the eighth month in the Roman calendar, but got moved when we changed to the Gregorian calendar. The root is otherwise in tact: An octagon has eight sides and octopus eight tentacles. An octave is more complicated.

Some other random "8" facts:

--We recognize eight planets, after Pluto was removed from that status in 2006.

--Eight is the atomic number for oxygen.

--A cup contains eight fluid ounces, a gallon eight pints and a mile eight furlongs.

--Yogi Berra, Cal Ripken, Carl Yastrzemski and Kobe Bryant all wore it.

As for the past, all kinds of exciting things happened in '08 years:

The New Year's ball first dropped in Times Square exactly 100 years ago. In 1808, the United States banned the importation of slaves, even though their emancipation would not take place for another 55 years. In 1708, Queen Anne becomes the last English monarch to veto an Act of Parliament. In 1608, Jamestown burned to the ground, a year after its founding. In 1508, Michelangelo began painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Beyond that, reliable dates are a little sketchy.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Dick Williams To The Hall of Fame

Dick Williams, manager of the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox, was one of five people elected by the Veterans Committee to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in balloting results announced yesterday.

Williams took those Red Sox to the World Series and later won two championships with the A's in the early 1970s.

Williams was considered one of the game's toughest managers, and while his stern approach wouldn't go over well in today's game, he seemed perfectly suited for the young '67 Sox. Carl Yastrzemski, who won the Triple Crown under Williams in 1967 but was benched and fined by him in 1969 for not running out a tapper to the mound, congratulated Williams in a statement released by the team.

"It was an honor to play for him," said Yastrzemski.

Williams remembered his days in Boston fondly.

"I had managed their Triple A team for two years at the top level and I got to come up and manage the big league team on a one-year contract the next year," he said. "We were 100-to-1 odds to win it.

"I had a Hall of Fame left fielder, and he was the last Triple Crown winner. I had Jim Lonborg and a lot of good extra players.

"I'm sure I made some people mad. I demanded perfection and I might have stepped on some toes, but I'm sure none of them turned away their World Series checks."