102. Triple Crown Thursday

Carl Yastrzemski is ill. A triple bypass was performed earlier in the week. Yaz was always a favorite of mine. We were Cardinal fans at our house and in those pre-cable TV days, we didn't see other teams much, just whoever was on NBC Game of the Week on Saturday afternoon. But somehow I knew about him. Maybe it was his fascinating, consonant-laden surname. He had a 'z' for cryin' out loud!

This article from the Boston Herald says that Yaz is the founder of Red Sox Nation. No disagreement here, though, Ted Williams certainly must have given the hopeful a glimpse of what could be.

The article says: “Forty-one years ago last night, on Aug. 19, 1967, he went 4-for-5 with four runs scored, two RBI, a double and a homer. The very next day, he hit a three-run homer in both ends of a doubleheader sweep over the then-California Angels to continue a historic one-man assault on the American League.

Back then, especially, Carl Yastrzemski seemed immortal.

What we know now, of course, is that Yaz is a 68-year-old man who needed triple bypass heart surgery last night at Massachusetts General Hospital, all while the redefined Red Sox of this era were continuing a late-season run toward the playoffs against the Baltimore Orioles.

Camden Yards once again was overrun with Red Sox fans, and you could not help but remember that Yastrzemski and that cataclysmic summer of 1967 was most responsible for starting all of this.”

World Series games were not played at night until 1971, I think. And in those days my dad would take some vacation so he could be home to watch the Fall Classic. In 1967 the Cardinals were pitted against Yastrzemski and his Red Sox in the World Series. I remember being in our living room when the Series ended with another title for St. Louis. As I watched, the Fenway crowd flooded the field and carried Yaz off the field on their shoulders. I was nine and I didn't understand this. I asked my dad, “Didn’t the Cardinals win the World Series?” He said that, yes, they did. “Then why,” I asked, “are they carrying that guy off the field?” My dad, in his characteristically understated way, simply said, “Because he had a good year.”

A good year? I guess so! It was a very good year, indeed. Yaz won the Triple Crown in ’67, leading the American League in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Nobody, in either league, has won a Triple Crown since.

So the Triple Crown winner required a triple bypass this week. Here's hoping good things do come in threes.

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