The name Yastrzemski still conjures a familiar thought in the minds of many baseball fans. For decades, it was a reference to a Red Sox legend.
In 2019, it has renewed relevance, though not in Boston.
On a day when Carl Yastrzemski turns 80 years old, the Hall of Famer can smile proudly at the increasingly familiar site of his grandson smashing home runs for the San Francisco Giants.
— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) August 22, 2019
Mike Yastrzemski is a 28-year-old rookie who grew up in Andover, Massachusetts. After spending years in the minor leagues, he finally got his call-up to the Major League level in May.
Since that time, Yastrzemski has clubbed 17 home runs and hit .282 with an .890 OPS, including a home run on Wednesday night:
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) August 22, 2019
Yastrzemski is having the best season of his professional career, and it’s happening only after he got promoted to the big leagues. In parts of seven seasons played in the minors, Yastrzemski never hit more than 15 home runs in a single year. But having been given a chance by the Giants, the outfielder hasn’t looked back.
“You know, the main thing is, he’s a great kid,” Carl said of Mike in a recent interview with Steve Buckley of The Athletic. “He’s worked hard. He always thought he was going to make it and I’m very, very happy for him.”
Mike has actually outpaced Carl’s rookie home run total (which was 11 for the Red Sox in 1961). Of course, the circumstances were different for Carl, who was brought in specifically for the impossible task of replacing Ted Williams. And by age 28, Carl had won an American League MVP award for helping the Red Sox pull off the “Impossible Dream” by winning the pennant in 1967.
Still, Mike’s story is admirable on its own. He was drafted twice (including initially by the Red Sox as a 36th round pick in 2009), but chose to attend Vanderbilt for a year. Finally, after being drafted for a third time — he was picked by the Orioles in the 14th round in 2013 — Yastrzemski went pro.
After a series of back-and-forth years in which he rotated between various levels of Baltimore’s minor league system, Mike was traded to the Giants in March. Two months later, he made his Major League debut. Since then, he’s taken off, including a night earlier in August when he totaled three home runs.
As for Carl, he’ll have a chance to see his grandson potentially play in Fenway Park when the Giants visit Boston to play the Red Sox from Sept. 17-19.
“To see him come play at Fenway,” Carl told Buckley, “that’ll be something.”