Bridgehampton’s Carl Yastrzemski was a schoolboy legend and the first East Ender to reach the major leagues when he made his debut at age 21 for the Boston Red Sox in 1959. Since then, only Ross Gload, a Brooklyn native who played for East Hampton High School, has made it to The Show on a permanent basis.
Even Yaz’s most ardent fans never expected him to become one of the greatest baseball players of all time, a winner of the coveted Triple Crown, and a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
For a long time, it seems probably too long, Michael Yastrzemski was in the wrong place, languishing in the minor leagues — and unlike his famous grandfather, it seemed like the opportunity would pass him by. That is, until a circuitous turn of events landed him in a stadium filled with fans. On April 25, in San Francisco, at the age of 28, the younger Yaz made the big leagues. In this, the second of a two-part series, he talked about his experience with The Independent.
Did your grandfather ever tell you about his exploits as a high schooler in Bridgehampton? Did you know he broke the Suffolk County basketball lifetime scoring record?
It’s hard getting any stories out of him. I do know most of the basketball stuff because my great uncle played with him.
Have you been out to the Hamptons much?
Only once, when my great-great-grandfather died and I came for the funeral.
Has your grandfather told you stories about the great Triple Crown season and the World Series in 1967?
No. He doesn’t talk about his exploits much. He likes to live in the moment. He feels like he’s lived his career and had his time, and now it is my moment.
Did he work with you when you were growing up?
He and my dad would play with me after school. He would hit with me on Sunday morning. It was great hearing the baseball stories. Throughout college we would work — that’s why it was so great, because he was such a good resource. Later on, he gave me advice on how to make a career for myself.
You seem to be making a conscious effort to hit home runs. Is that true?
No, but I’m making an effort to drive the ball harder, and maybe homers are a byproduct of that. I do what comes natural —just going for hits, but the homers come.
Might we see Carl out east again?
No. He’s not much of a traveler these days. He stays close to home.
Editors Note: Mike Yastrzemski is a starting outfielder for the San Francisco Giants. After 114 at bats, he’s hitting .246, with five home runs.