Mike Yastrzemski

Yaz homering again at Fenway shows baseball's romantic side

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Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski entered the Giants’ visiting clubhouse through a backdoor Thursday morning to see his grandson Mike, who then introduced his grandfather to manager Bob Melvin. 

A couple hours later, with one swing, Mike put all of Fenway Park into a personal time machine. Yastrzemski yanked a cutter over the right-center field wall and into the Red Sox’s bullpen to lead off the top of the third inning, giving the Giants their first run ahead of an eventual 3-1 win to avoid being swept.

This was something Carl did time and time again in his Hall of Fame career.

Driving his back leg, dropping his left ear to his left shoulder and raising his chin towards his right shoulder, Yastrzemski took full advantage of a Josh Winckowski mistake. The third pitch Yastrzemski saw on the day traveled 393 feet and was hit more than 100 mph off his bat. 

As he trotted around the infield on the same path around the bases his famed last name took for his entire 23-year MLB career, the cameras immediately panned to Yastrzemski’s mother and grandmother in the stands.

“It’s just really cool,” Yastrzemski said to Laura Britt and Shawn Estes on "Giants Postgame Live" moments after the win. “Obviously I wouldn’t have the opportunity without him doing what he did. It’s just fun. I try to enjoy every chance I get to play here. Having a lot of family here is great.” 

It was five seasons ago when Yastrzemski made his Fenway Park debut as a 29-year-old rookie on Sept. 17, 2019. He struck out his first time standing in the same left-handed batter’s box Carl once did, but then turned back the clock his second at-bat, hitting a home run to center field.

The media hoopla was much more expansive back then. Yastrzemski could feel it too, this time soaking in getting to play in his baseball backyard.

“The first time I was here, I felt a little pressure to perform and play well,” Yastrzemski said. “But this time I got to really enjoy it and just relax and see family and have fun. … It was a lot less media than the first time. That stuff’s all so memorable, that I enjoy it now more than I did when I was going through it. 

“Got a ton of family here. Left about 30 tickets every game. I played for free this weekend, but it’s worth it.”

Yastrzemski’s return to Boston initially didn’t go so great. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a hit by pitch in Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Red Sox. He grounded out his first at-bat Wednesday, before going back in time – but in a much different manner than Thursday’s long ball. 

Reading the Red Sox’s defensive alignment like a veteran quarterback, Yastrzemski laid down a perfect drag bunt down the third-base line with two outs to score Michael Conforto and tie the game at 2-2.

But sending a deep drive to right field at Fenway Park is a timed tradition for the Yastrzemski family. Carl hit 237 of his 452 career home runs at Fenway, the second-most by any player at the historic park behind only Ted Williams' 248. Mike now has played six games at Fenway and has homered in two of them. Thursday’s solo shot put an exclamation mark on an unforgettable day for all.

“It got a smile out of me,” Melvin said of Yastrzemski’s homer. “Baseball Gods – pretty good hitter, too.” 

Melvin when asked about meeting Carl Yastrzemski added: “I was just awestruck. I didn’t have a ton to say to him. … Like I was saying earlier today, there are some cool days in baseball and I’ve had a lot of them. This was one of them.”

Peanut butter and jelly, eggs and bacon, and the San Francisco aroma of the Bay Area’s favorite medicine floating around Giants home games. Some things just go together. Yastrzemski jogging the bases at Fenway Park was a bright reminder to appreciate the romantic side of baseball, even when if you feel it’s bogged down by numbers that would make fans of the original Yaz go mad.

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