While his first two years were viewed as solid but unspectacular, he emerged as a rising star in , winning the American League batting championship with a batting average of .321, and also leading the league in doubles and walks, finishing sixth in the Most Valuable Player voting.
In an article he co-wrote for the November 1967 issue of SPORT Magazine, Yastrzemski credited Boston's remarkable season to manager Dick Williams and an infusion of youth, including Rico Petrocelli and Tony Conigliaro. Referring to Williams, Yastrzemski wrote: "He got rid of all the individuality, made us into a team, gave us an incentive, and made us want to win.
In , he hit the first of two straight 40 home run seasons as he led the Red Sox to third-place finishes that year and the next. Yaz got four hits and won the All-Star Game MVP in , although the American League lost. His .329 batting average that season was his career high, but finished behind Alex Johnson for the 1970 AL batting championship by less than .001. In 1970 he led the league in slugging and on-base percentage, finishing third in home runs.
Although he hit but 61 homers over the next four years (1971 through 1974) as the Red Sox finished second twice and third twice, he finished in the top 10 in batting, and top three in on base percentage and walks in 1973 and 1974, and led the league in runs scored in 1974.
In the 1975 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Yastrzemski was called to pinch-hit in the sixth inning, with two men on base and the American League down 3-0. Without wearing a batting helmet, Yastrzemski hit Tom Seaver's first pitch for a home run to tie the score. The 3-run homer was the only scoring the American League did that night as they lost 6-3.
Yastrzemski and the Red Sox would suffer another World Series loss in , losing four games to three to the Cincinnati Reds. Yaz made the final out in Game 7 on a fly out to center, trailing by one run. Coincidentally, he also made the final out of the American League East division one-game playoff with a foul pop to third base. This game featured Bucky Dent's famous homer (although Reggie Jackson's home run was the eventual winning run). Earlier in the game, however, Yastrzemski began the scoring with a home run off left-handed pitcher Ron Guidry, who was having a career year (25 wins, 3 loses and a 1.74 ERA). It was the only homer the Cy Young Award winner allowed to a left-hander all season.
In 1978 Yastrzemski, then 39, was one of the five oldest players in the league. In 1982, playing primarily as a designated hitter, an early season hitting streak placed him among the league's leading hitters and saw him featured on the cover of the Sporting News and played in that year's All-Star game.
Yaz was well-known for his batting stance, holding his bat exceptionally high, giving his swing a large, dramatic arc, and more power at the plate. However, in his later years, he adjusted his stance and held the bat lower. He was also known for modifying his batting helmets by enlarging the right ear hole (for comfort) and removing part of the right ear flap (for better vision of the ball as it was being pitched).
As one of the top players of his era, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, with the support of 94% of voters.
A record album of the Red Sox's 1967 season, aptly titled "The Impossible Dream", featured a song by DJ Jess Cain of praise for "The man they call Yaz", which included the line "Although 'Yastrzemski' is a lengthy name / It fits quite nicely in our Hall of Fame." (A link to the song appears below.)
The song can be heard, and the album cover can be seen, in the apartment of Ben Wrightman (played by Jimmy Fallon) in the 2005 film Fever Pitch. Earlier in the film, Ben's girlfriend, Lindsay Meeks (Drew Barrymore), not yet familiar with the triumphs and tribulations of the Red Sox, is unable to properly pronounce Yaz's name, and has to be corrected by the surrounding fans: "Ya-STREM-ski!" In his career with the Red Sox, he wore uniform number 8 from start to finish. The Red Sox retired this number after Yaz was elected to the Hall of Fame. He is currently a roving instructor with the Red Sox, and was recently honored by throwing out the first pitch of the 2007 World Series.
Yaz makes a return to the Series ; Carl Yastrzemski and his 1967 Impossible Dream teammates who turned the Red Sox around are honored before Game 1.
Oct 25, 2007; MIKE LOWE Staff Writer -- Portland Press Herald (Maine) 10-25-2007 Yaz makes a return to the Series ; Carl Yastrzemski and his...
Where have you gone, Carl Yastrzemski? A statistical analysis of the Triple Crown.(TRIPLE CROWN)(Report)(Statistical data)
Jan 01, 2008; All I want out of life is that when I walk down the street folks will say, "There goes the greatest hitter that ever lived."...