Member of National Baseball Hall of Fame
and the last player to hit for the Triple Crown
. Loved in Boston
as he spent his entire 23 season career as a member of the Boston Red Sox
, but also respected everywhere else as one of baseball's greats.
Yastrzemski (DOB: 8/22/1939, Southampton, New York; to pronounce his name, the "z" is silent) first played for the Red Sox in 1961, at the age of 21. He started 148 games in that first season, and batted a mediocre .266 with just 11 home runs.
"Yaz"'s numbers improved, and in 1963 he won his first American League batting crown, hitting .321 (Al Kaline was second at .312).
In 1967, he put everything together, batting .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBIs, leading the league in all three categories (a feat known as the Triple Crown). It has been more than 30 years since that season and no one has won the Triple Crown since. Yaz won the American League MVP for his tremendous season.
He won his third, and final, batting title in 1968 ("The Year of the Pitcher"), batting only .301. This is the lowest batting average in a season that ever won the batting title.
Yaz kept playing, and his career numbers piled up. His longevity was particularly impressive. In a career which lasted from 1961-1983 (23 seasons), Yastrzemski played in at least 105 games and hit at least 10 home runs 22 times (importantly, the one season he missed out on both was 1981, the year a labor strike shortened the Red Sox season to only 108 games, instead of 162).
Yastrzemski wasn't just a great hitter. He stole 168 career bases and was one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, winning 7 Gold Glove Awards (fielding tidbit: while he played mostly left field, Yaz also played over 700 games at first base).
The Red Sox never won a World Series during Yaz's career (nor for much longer than that; see Curse of the Bambino). However, it wasn't due to Yaz. He batted .352 combined in the 1967 and 1975 World Series.
Yaz was an 18 time All-Star. He hit .285 over 11988 at-bats (the at-bats is 3rd all-time, as of 2001, behind only Pete Rose and Hank Aaron). He hit 452 home runs and compiled 1844 RBIs. Yastrzemski played in 3308 games, second only to Pete Rose. With 3419 hits, he's currently 7th all-time.
Yastrzemski was deservingly elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.