Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Had you ever thought about the mortality of Yaz before the other day? I hadn't. Maybe it's because when I was little, he was already old. Yet he was still a fixture of the Red Sox team. He's just always been middle-aged in my mind. No older, no younger. He's always looked like a 45 year old man.

Good to hear his surgery was a success.

Sox go for the sweep in Baltimore tonight, still 4.5 back in the east and 1 up in the Fields with the Twins having already won today.

I couldn't believe when I heard the Orioles' 50 millionth fan deal was not on the up and up. They supposedly "estimated" when number 50 million would walk through the gates, and then grabbed someone--making sure it was an Orioles fan. You know, I thought about going down there just to have a shot at the 50 thousand bucks, even if the Red Sox hadn't been in town. I'd be really pissed if I'd gone, only to find out I had no chance to win, even thought technically I could've been number 50,000,000.

He was already a veteran when I started rooting for the team in '75. When I was a kid, I just kinda assumed that he was going to play for the Sox forever; when he finally retired in '83, I was a sophmore in college. I remember what a weird feeling that was; in some ways it was the first time I really appreciated that everything ultimately comes to an end.
I'll never forget his last at bat. It was the first year of Castiglione, and my first year of seriously listening to the Sox, at age 7, though I'd been following them through baseball cards since I was like 2. I say it's my first radio year, because I have no recollection of Coleman with anyone but Castiglione.

Anyway, I was sitting on the floor in my room, next to me Yaz 400 HR 3000 Hits pennant, rooting for him to hit one final homer, but that last pitch was so high on 3-0, he had to take a cut, and popped it up.
I still remember watching his 400th hr against Mike Morgan and his 3000th hit against the MFYs. The latter was especially drawn out and agonizing; he finally got it (IIRC) on a dribbler just past Willie Randolph into shallow right field.

Yaz was a consummate pro and a great player, but what I remember watching him in the late 70's was that everything always looked so painful for him out there, especially in comparison to the youngsters (Lynn and Rice) who were just coming into their primes. It must have been very different for those who got to watch him in the late '60's, particularly in the final weeks of '67 when, by all accounts, he was unstoppable and pretty much carried the Sox on his back.
I never got to see Yaz play. I was only 2 when he played here in the Carolina League (he was MVP for the Raleigh team).
I rarely even got to see him on TV even, except for those great postseason games. The Red Sox were hardly ever the Game of the Week when I was young, and I lost touch with baseball for about a decade or so in the mid 70's - 80's. You know.
But I'll never forget searching the boxscores for his #s during the Triple Crown chase, and following him during what I thought was an incredible '68 season. He "only" hit 301, but was the only hitter to break 300.
I got to meet him, well, you know, shake his hand and gush a little, in an autograph tent at the old Crosby Golf Tournament they used to do here. He was quite friendly, and talked it up with the crowd as we stood in line waiting our turn.
I'm glad he's OK.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States