On Tuesday night, a Yastrzemski roamed the outfield at Fenway Park for the first time since October 2, 1983. Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, started in left field, the same patch of grass that his grandfather roamed so brilliantly nearly four decades ago.
Throughout his illustrious career, Carl Yastrzemski compiled a list of accomplishments that ranks amongst the greatest Major League Baseball has ever seen. In 23 seasons, all with the Red Sox, Yastrzemski recorded a .285 batting average, 452 home runs, 1,844 RBIs and 3,419 hits. “Yaz” was an 18-time All-Star, 7-time Gold Glove winner and 3-time AL batting champion.
In his magical 1967 season, Yastrzemski won the AL Triple Crown, taking home the MVP award in the process. How significant is that achievement? No other major league player won the triple crown for 45 years, until Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers accomplished the feat in 2012.
However, this particular evening belonged to a new generation of Yastrzemski. Drawing inspiration from a pre-game walk around the outfield with his grandfather and an emotional group of family members in attendance - Mike Yastrzemski had the opportunity to play out a fantasy that he'd dreamt about since he was a boy. He didn’t disappoint.
Batting leadoff for the Giants, Yastrzemski received a loud ovation from the Boston crowd as his name was announced in the top of the first inning. Mike eventually struck out in his initial at-bat and drew a walk in his next plate appearance in the third inning; however, his third at-bat in the fourth frame was one that he and his family won't soon forget. Facing Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi, Yastrzemski drove a 3-1 fastball over the centerfield wall for a solo home run - the 20th of his impressive rookie season.
As Mike Yastrzemski floated around the bases, the television cameras flashed to his family in the stands - hugs, tears, elation. As Yastrzemski headed back to the Giants’ visiting dugout he was congratulated by his ecstatic teammates, including Manager Bruce Bochy, who sported a priceless ear-to-ear smile. It was one of those moments that gives a fan goosebumps - a Disney movie playing out in real life.
In what turned out to be a classic, marathon affair, San Francisco prevailed 7-6 in 15 innings. Yastrzemski would finish the game with a 2-for-7 effort. He nearly sent his family into another frenzy in the 14th inning; however, this fly ball to centerfield bounced over the wall. Yastrzemski and company had to settle for a ground rule double.
It wasn’t all positive for the Giants’ rookie outfielder, as he did strike out three times in the game. But, the swing of the bat that everyone will remember is the majestic home run that Yastrzemski drove over the centerfield wall in his first career game at Fenway Park. It was the first home run by a Yastrzemski in Boston since July 31, 1983, when Carl Yastrzemski took Moose Haas deep. How many more home runs does the younger “Yaz” have to produce to match Grandpa Carl’s Fenway total? Only 236. No matter how many more round trippers Mike Yastrzemski hits in his ascending career, he can proudly say he lived his dream.