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Professional baseball player Carl Yastrzemski is regarded as one of the greatest defensive left fielders in Red Sox history.
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It was also during his senior year that Yastrzemski's biggest childhood dream came true: a New York Yankees scout showed up at his front door and offered him a $60,000 contract. And while Carl desperately wanted to accept the offer, his father insisted that Yastrzemski accept nothing less than $100,000.
The Yankees refused to up their offer, and so Yastrzemski gave up his first shot at professional baseball,
instead attending Notre Dame University on a full scholarship for baseball and basketball. His decision proved a wise one. After just his freshman season at Notre Dame, the Boston Red Sox flew him out to Fenway Park and offered him $108,000 to join the club. This time Yastrzemski accepted.
In 1961, after one season in the minor leagues, the Red Sox called Yastrzemski up to the majors. Nicknamed "Yaz" by teammates and fans, the Red Sox's new left fielder had very large shoes to fill as the replacement for the legendary Ted Williams, who had retired the previous season in 1960. And while he could never quite match Williams' peerless production at the plate, Yastrzemski turned out to be one of the greatest defensive left fielders in Red Sox history.
Playing in front of Fenway Park's towering 37-foot left field wall, nicknamed "the Green Monster," Yastrzemski won seven Golden Glove awards as the league's best defensive left fielder. He also developed into an excellent hitter, winning three American League batting championships. In 1967, he won the Triple Crown as the American League leader in batting average (.326), RBIs (121) and home runs (44) and won the American League MVP award.
After 23 seasons in left field, Yastrzemski retired in 1983. At the conclusion of his final game at Fenway Park, Yastrzemski jogged his final lap around the bases to a standing ovation. He retired as a 14-time all star, one of only nine players in Major League Baseball history to amass 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. He also held eight different career Red Sox team records. Yastrzemski was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989—his first year of eligibility.
For his entire life, Carl Yastrzemski has lived and breathed baseball. He once said, "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it." However, Yastrzemski also understands that he only has the luxury of focusing so hard on the game of baseball because of the sacrifices made by his parents.
He said during his Hall of Fame induction speech, "I've often been asked during my career how can you stand up to the rigors of big league baseball and it's pressure packed situations, and I've always answered the same way. Pressure, what pressure? Pressure is what faces millions and millions of fathers and mothers trying to earn a living every day to support a family, to give it comfort, devotion and love. That's what pressure really is and that's what my dear mother whom I miss today and my father gave me."
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