It’s the 30th Anniversary of a Red Sox legend’s HoF induction. Let’s remember the great “Yaz.”
In 1989, Carl Yastrzemski was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Among the leaders in virtually every major offensive category in Red Sox history, the man they call Yaz is still one of the franchise’s most popular players.
Revered for playing the lead role in the “1967 Impossible Dream” season, Yaz became baseball’s 14th Triple Crown winner, while leading the Red Sox to the American League Pennant. Powering the Red Sox from last place in 1966, Yaz hit .326 for his second batting title, tied Harmon Killebrew with 44 homers and drove in 121 runs. Yaz capped the season off with 10 hits in 13 at bats. In one of the greatest seasons ever for a Red Sox player, Yaz led the team to the World Series and bolstered his Triple Crown numbers by pacing the AL in runs, hits and total bases. Over his 23-year-career, Yaz collected 3,419 hits, 1,844 RBI, 452 homers — at a time when 400 homers was an accurate benchmark for a top slugger — and seven gold gloves.
The 18-time All-Star was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 on the first ballot. With each passing season the legend of Yastrzemski’s accomplishment grows. Only 15 players have had Triple Crown seasons —Miguel Cabrera joined the select group in 2012 — with Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams each achieving it twice.
Former Red Sox slugger, Jimmie Foxx, slugged for the Triple Crown in 1933 while playing for the Philadelphia Athletics. Baseball immortals such as Hank Aaron and Willie Mays didn’t do it. Babe Ruth came close in 1924, leading the AL in batting and homes, but losing the RBI title to Goose Goslin.
Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds have led their respective leagues in all three categories, but never in the same season. In 2006 David Ortiz was first in the AL in homers and RBI, but hit just .287. With more and more batters specializing in either hitting for batting average or power, a Triple Crown winner in the near future is becoming less and less likely.
There are many Red Sox fans that never saw his greatness, but there’s never a bad time to appreciate the legend of Carl Yastrzemski.