statue honoring Carl Yazstremski
will soon be part of the environment
outside of Fenway Park – and
justifiably so. This piece and the
one that will follow merge oral
history with narrative to bring back
some of the life and times of one of
Boston’s greatest ballplayers.
Ted Williams was gone but the talk
was about the “new Williams” waiting
in the wings and ready to become a
new legend for the Boston Red Sox
starting in 1961.
Back on November 28, 1958, two days
after receiving a $125,000 offer
from the Cincinnati Reds, he arrived
with his father in Boston to
negotiate with the Red Sox.
Scout Bots Nekola recalled the
"They drove up to Boston in the
middle of this damn blizzard,"
Nekola said. "It was dismal, snowing
like hell, and Fenway Park was the
last place in the world you'd try to
entice anybody with."
The young prospect walked around the
park while the veteran scout waited
nervously. The youngster studied the
fences; striding swiftly he came
back to Nekola. “I can hit in this
park," he said.
Red Sox farm director Johnny Murphy
offered the boy $100,000 plus
college tuition. The father wanted
$125,000 but dropped to $115,000
"We'll give you $108,000 plus a
two-year Triple-A farm contract, a
year plus the rest of your college
expenses," Murphy made a counter
The contract was signed. They all
went to meet general manager Joe
Cronin who sized up the 5'11",
170-pound young man "He doesn't seem
very big,” was the baseball legend’s
"He walked out shaking his head like
a man who had met a midget when he
expected a giant," the youth
TED SPENCER: Over the winter the
story was about Carl Yazstremski,
the new Ted Williams. “Well, I’m not
going to miss this,” I said. I
missed Williams’ last game. Three
guys in high school with me wanted
to go, too. It was April 11th 1961,
my 18th birthday. I went down to
the basement ticket window in
Remick’s department store in Quincy,
Mass. and bought four tickets, $3.50
each. Great seats - about four rows
behind the on-deck circle behind the
dugout on the visitor’s side.
Yaz hit a bloop single to left field
in his first at bat and went 1-5
that day. That first hit came off
A's hurler Ray Herbert. The Sox lost
to Kansas City, 5-2. .
"I came to love Fenway,” Yaz said.
“It was a place that rejuvenated me
after a road trip; the fans right on
top of you, the nutty angles. And
the Wall. That was my baby, the
left-field wall, the Green Monster."
JOHNNY PESKY: I think Yaz was as
good as any outfielder that ever
played there, and I’m not taking
anything away from Ted. Yaz was
like an infielder from the
outfield. He threw well; they
couldn’t run on him. And he knew
how to play that Monster.
DAN SHAUGHNESSY: Yaz could decoy
better than any outfielder and
routinely pretended he was ready to
catch a ball that he knew was going
to carom off the Wall. Sometimes
this would make runners slow down or
DON ZIMMER: When Bucky Deny hit the
ball, I said, “That's an out.” And
usually you know when the ball hits
the bat whether it's short, against
the wall, in the net or over the
net. I see Yaz backing up, and when
he's looking up, I still think he's
going to catch it. When I see him
turn around, then I know he's going
to catch it off the wall. Then the
ball wound up in the net.
"I was so damn shocked," pitcher
Mike Torrez said. "I thought maybe
it was going to be off the wall.
Damn, I did not think it was going
to go out."
BUCKY DENT: When I hit the ball, I
knew that I had hit it high enough
to hit the wall. But there were
shadows on the net behind the wall
and I didn't see the ball land
there. I was running from the plate
because I thought I had a chance at
a double. I didn't know it was a
home run until the second-base
umpire signaled it was a home run.
It was an eerie feeling because the
ballpark was dead silent.
STEVE RYDER: It was just a pop fly
off Mike Torrez. It just made the
netting. The crowd was just
absolutely stunned, absolutely
Don Zimmer changed the Yankee
shortstop's name to "Bucky F_____g
Dent." Red Sox fans were even more
vulgar in their language.
Yaz had two hits in that game,
including a homer off Ron Guidry,
but he also made the last out.
DAN SHAUGHNESSY: I was covering for
the Baltimore Eagle Sun in the
second or third row. The old press
box was down low. I was downstairs
later in the stands when Gossage got
Yaz to pop up because we were
getting ready to go to the locker
room and it looked like they were
going down and that was interesting
how Sox fans in those days had a
sense of gloom, anticipating.
Whatever happened, it wasn’t going
to end well.
DICK FLAVIN: I was in a box seat
right behind the Red Sox dugout. You
could put your beer right on the
roof. So I had a great look of Yaz
coming off the field right after he
popped up. He had his head down,
STEVE RYDER: I saw that popup up
close. It was a fairly high one,
you could say it was a homerun in a
silo. It just ended the game ,and
the people left in kind of a
dejected attitude and demeanor.
DON ZIMMER: Instead of going into
the clubhouse, I sat in the dugout
and watched their team celebrate.
DENNIS ECKERSLEY: Yaz was crying in
the trainer’s room. It was not as
crushing for me because when you’re
23 you think, well, we’ll do it next
year. We have such a good team. But
if I knew what I know now, I would
have been devastated. We never
really got there again after that.