Results tagged ‘ Carl Yastrzemski ’

Middlebrooks on praise from Yaz

Count Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski among those who believe Will Middlebrooks will have a bounceback season in 2014.

“I like the way Middlebrooks is swinging,” said Yaz. “Talked to him a little bit and he said he’s thinking up the middle more this year. I think he’s going to have a great year. He’s got a quick bat. There’s no reason for him not to hit .300. If he doesn’t think pulling the ball and just let his reactions take over, he’s going to have a hell of a year.”

Of hearing what Yaz said, Middlebrooks said, “Of course it means a lot. I have a lot of respect for him and how he played the game and obviously his success and what he means to this organization. It means a lot. For him to come up and say he’s coming to watch me take BP … and he has something to say. He wants to help out. It means a lot to me. I had a good talk with him.

When Middlebrooks was in the lower levels of Boston’s farm system, he was one of the many players Yaz would work with in the batting cage.

“That was before I understood who he was and what he had done,” said Middlebrooks.  “I think it means a little more now.”

As for the notion that Middlebrooks might have been too pull-happy last year?

“Not purposely. It’s just something with my body, I don’t know. Yeah [I was], but not purposely,” he said. “I’ve never gone up there with the intent to just pull the ball.”

Yaz on triple crown: Someone is going to do it

With Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera perhaps being closer to winning the Triple Crown than any player in the last 45 years, it was the perfect timing for Carl Yastrzemski to be available for comment.

The former Red Sox icon was unveiled Wednesday night as the backup left fielder — behind Ted Williams — on the All-Fenway team.

When Yaz led the 1967 Red Sox to the Impossible Dream, winning the pennant on the final day of the season, the triple crown couldn’t have been any further from his mind.

But in all the years that have followed, with nobody else winning it, Yaz feels that the next Triple Crown winner is all but inevitable.

“Someone is going to do it,” Yaz said. “Whether it’s Cabrera this year or next year. I’m surprised it’s gone on this long to be perfectly honest. When Rose broke Cobb’s hit record I never thought that was going to happen and when Ripken broke Gehrig’s consecutive game record I never thought that would happen either. So it’s going to happen.

“One thing that’s going to help him is he’s in a pennant race. Of course there’s so much more publicity now a days, people calling and everything else. In ’67 the Triple Crown was never even mentioned once we were so involved in the pennant race. I didn’t know I won the Triple Crown until the next day when I read it in the paper. That’s how involved we were in the pennant race.”

“Like I said, I thought somebody would win it a long time ago. The surprising thing about it is in the 50s and when Mantle won and Williams and Frank, we had the higher mound. I’d like to see what some of the pitchers would throw today, what their speeds would be, if they came off a higher mound. I could see Verlander probably throwing 100 mph or more on every pitch. Like I said, I’m surprised it’s lasted so long.”

‘Tek tributes

Tremendous job by the Red Sox PR staff getting quotes from impactful voices near and far on the career of Jason Varitek.

Without further ado:

“Tek epitomizes what a true professional should be. He’s been a great teammate, but more importantly he’s been a better friend. The way he prepared and led the Boston Red Sox over the last 15 years has been an inspiration to all who have watched.  Although his leadership will be missed, his legacy in Red Sox history will be forged forever. It has been a true honor to have played with him for this long and I wish him nothing but the best as he starts a new chapter in his life. Congratulations Tek on an unbelievable career. I’m glad we’ve been able to share a lot of great memories together.” — – Tim Wakefield, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2011

“Ever since I’ve known him, dating back to being his teammate in college, he has been a tireless worker. His preparation and endless work ethic has made him a true champion. He is a great player, great teammate, great friend and even a better man. Thanks Tek for all you have taught me.” – Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2004, Georgia Tech teammate from 1992-94, current ESPN analyst

“It’s tough to see Tek go. He was a class act in the clubhouse, a leader on that team. He epitomizes what a captain is all about. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to play with him, I never saw someone worked harder. We all loved him, he was a quiet leader, but when something needed to be said he said it.” – Trot Nixon, Red Sox teammate from 1998-2006.

“I want to congratulate Jason Varitek, a.k.a “Johnny Unitas fl at-top hair cut” on a remarkable career and mostly for being part of the fi rst World Series in 2004 with Sox Nation. It seems like yesterday we were in our hotel rooms on the road hitting with a pizza box going over our stances in our underwear during our struggles offensively. But above all, he’s a true professional, a true teammate and, best yet, an even better person. I wish him much success in the up and coming real world and we’ll see you soon with powder and an ear piece on TV.” – Kevin Millar, Red Sox teammate from 2003-05, current MLB Network analyst.

“In my 23 years of professional baseball I never played with or against a more selfless and prepared player than Jason Varitek. The ultimate team player, never hesitating to forgo personal success for the greater good, I’m proud to call him a friend and former teammate. I wish him God’s blessing and much happiness in wherever life takes him from here, he’s certainly earned it.” – Curt Schilling, Red Sox teammate from 2004-07, current ESPN analyst.

“Tek was a rare player. His first care was that his teammates succeeded even before himself. I have never seen a player so prepared for every game, even if he wasn’t playing. I learned a lot from him just by watching. I am glad to have been his teammate. Thanks for all you have done for the game Tek.” – Mike Timlin, Red Sox teammate from 2003-08

“He’s a true professional and was always the most prepared. He taught me how to be a leader and showed me how to be a champion. He should be a Red Sox Hall of Famer and it was a honor and a pleasure to have been his teammate and a huge fan of his since our high school days in Central Florida. I wish him all the best in the future.” – Johnny Damon, Red Sox teammate from 2002-05.

“Tek was hands down one of the best teammates I ever had. I have never come across someone who would prepare for the game more thoroughly than him. His dedication to his craft, and work ethic, were always qualities that I admired, and he was a true captain in every sense of the word. I wish him nothing but the best” – Mike Lowell, Red Sox teammate from 2006-10.

“Congrats on a Hall of Fame career. I will always cherish our championship memories together. He showed me how to be a Major League Baseball player with honesty, hard work and integrity without ever having to say one word and I am forever thankful for having him as a captain and teammate.” – Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox teammate from 2005-11, current Phillies pitcher

“Jason is the consummate professional and teammate, he never waivers on who he is. He was a selfless leader and example for the entire team. He always cared about all 25 guys in the clubhouse and should serve as a role model for all baseball players present  and future.” – Bill Mueller, Red Sox teammate from 2003-05.

“Jason is a perfect example of what I think Red Sox baseball is all about: tough, gritty, passionate and most importantly, loyal. He has had an incredible run and was one of the biggest reasons why the Red Sox raised the Championship fl ags in ’04 and ’07. I can’t wait until he joins us in the Red Sox Hall of Fame, it will be a well deserved honor. He was a great teammate, a great friend, and a great professional. He should hold his head high and be proud of what he accomplished. Proud like the organization he spent 15 years with, proud like his teammates, and of course, proud like the greatest fans in all of baseball, Red Sox Nation! Congratulations Tek on a special career!” – John Valentin, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2001.

“He made himself with hard work into greatness. Fitting he led the Sox to two World Series championships. Couldn’t have happened to a better man.” – Mo Vaughn, Red Sox teammate from 1997-98.

“I have great respect for Jason’s 15-year career. I want to thank him for the great memories during my time with the Red Sox. I hope to see him pass down his wealth of knowledge to the younger generation.” – Hideo Nomo, Red Sox teammate in 2001, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 4/4/01

“He’s one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever seen at that position, as far as studying every day and taking pride in what he did. You look back and marvel at playing that position that many years and to see the stuff that he was able to see from his eyes. He should be proud of what he’s been able to accomplish.” – Derek Lowe, Red Sox teammate from 1997-2004, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 4/27/02, current Indians pitcher.

“With Tek, we always saw a guy that was really intense on the fi eld and baseball is his passion. He was always thinking about the little things. He caught me in my fi rst two full seasons and he was a guy that was an awesome resource for anybody to go to if they needed help in any aspect of the game. I’ll be forever in debt to him for that, I had a great time playing with him.” – Clay Buchholz, Red Sox teammate from 2007-11, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 9/1/07.

“It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to put this uniform on with him all these years. Congratulations Tek on a great career and congratulations on a well-deserved retirement.” – Jon Lester, Red Sox teammate from 2006-11, threw no-hitter to Varitek on 5/19/08.

”Congratulations to Jason Varitek on an outstanding career. As a former captain of the Red Sox, I can appreciate the way he approached the game. His leadership set a fi ne example for his teammates and the Red Sox organization.” —  Carl Yastrzemski, Hall of Fame outfi elder, Red Sox Hall of Famer, played entire 23-year career with Boston from 1961-1983

”Jason Varitek will always have a prominent place in Red Sox history. He caught more games as a Red Sox and helped the team win their fi rst World Series in 86 years. I am happy for him and proud of his accomplishments. Congratulations Jason!” – Carlton Fisk, Hall of Fame catcher, Red Sox Hall of Famer, played with Boston from 1969-1980.

”I think he was born to be a catcher. I was with him when he was a rookie, I remember seeing his fi rst Major League hit. To me, he was an over-achiever, but had a great work ethic and leadership qualities. He was always goal oriented in achieveing the best. He is an outstanding person and outstanding teammate. Definitely the type of player to win championships with. Bottom line he’s a baseball player.” – Jimy Williams, Red Sox Manager from 1997-2001.

”Tek was the captain seven out of my eight years with the Red Sox. The “C” on his chest was just a formality, he was the leader of the team with or without it. I could say a lot of things about Tek, but the most important thing was he kept everyone going in the right direction.” – Terry Francona, Red Sox Manager from 2004-11, current ESPN analyst.

”Jason was a rock during his Red Sox career and a rare leader who delivered in the most important games. He knew how to get the most out of all pitchers by giving his own best effort everyday.” – Dan Duquette, Red Sox GM from 1994-2001, current Orioles EVP of Baseball Operations.

”Jason Varitek has been the rock of the Red Sox for nearly a decade and a half. He was always prepared for each game and every situation and guided many diverse pitching talents and personalities to success while taking no personal credit. His future Red Sox Hall of Fame plaque will highlight the record four no-hitters he caught and his critical role in two World Championships as well as the quality of his character which made him such a strong leader and captain. I am thankful for his friendship and appreciative of how he gave his body and his heart to Red Sox Nation.” – Joe Castiglione, Red Sox Radio broadcaster from 1983-present

”Jason was one of those players that made the rivalry between our two teams so special. He was the type of competitor that brought out the best in everyone who was on the fi eld with him, whether you were playing with him or against him. He should be very proud of the way he represented the Red Sox organization throughout the years. He played the game with passion and dignity, and regardless of the color of his uniform I will always have a great deal of respect for the way he went about his business, day after day, and year after year.” – Jorge Posada, Yankees catcher from 1996-2011.

”I’ve always admired the way Jason played the game, and I appreciated the opportunity I had to get to know him throughout the years. He was a big part of the reason they had so much success as a team. Jason had a career that should be celebrated and I’m happy for him.” – Derek Jeter, Yankees shortstop from 1995-present, Yankees captain since 2003.

”Jason is one of the greatest players, not only to wear a Georgia Tech uniform, but to have played college baseball. There’s not a better guy in the world. He’s one of the best guys that I’ve ever had a chance to coach. I certainly wish him well and I’ll be interested to see what he does next.” – Danny Hall, Georgia Tech Head Baseball Coach from 1994-present.

The venerable All-Star

I’m sure Jason Bay, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis and Jonathan Papelbon don’t mind that they are going to be overshadowed by the team’s sixth All-Star today. This is Tim Wakefield’s day.

At 42 years old, after 188 wins, 2,904 2/3 innings, 1,960 strikeouts and countless anemic swings taken at his knuckler, Wakefield is finally an All-Star.

How rare is this? Wakefield is the oldest pitcher to become an All-Star for the first time since Satchel Paige at 46 years old in 1952. Jamie Moyer (40 in 2003), Connie Marrero (40 in 1951) are the only other first-time All-Stars to be 40 or older. And captain Carl Yastrzemski is the only other Red Sox player to appear in an All-Star Game at 42 or older, doing it in 1982 and 1983.

It was definitely a nice moment for Wake when they announced the first five All-Stars before the top of the third inning, and then finished with Wakefield. The crowd game him a huge hand and Wakefield acknowledged the gesture with a wave of his hand.

Ted, Yaz and Jim — Left field trio for ages

Finally, Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame. And finally, the holy trinity of Red Sox left fielders is truly complete.

Think about this. Three Hall of Fame left fielders who played their entire career with one team, one succeeding the other. I am going to say it right now. This will never happen again.

I am now a sportswriter but when I was in my youth, growing up in the Boston area, I enjoyed the heck out of watching Jim Rice play baseball. I’ve never seen someone produce such swift bat action with their wrists. What a strong man he was. He played hard, he played hurt, and he smoked the ball, just about every day.

Yes, there were some double plays, particularly in the mid ’80s. But there were a whole lot more screaming line drives. He could also play left field. People forget this. This guy developed into a strong defensive player at Fenway Park, where he truly mastered The Wall.

Listening to him speak the last two days, it is unbelievable how relaxed and happy he has become. Jim always put up that front of insecurity, but it has been utterly gone the last two days.

I was at the game in 1982 when a little boy got nailed in the head by a Dave Stapleton line drive. The kid was bleeding and fans were in stunned silence, not knowing quite what to do. Jim Rice never flinched. He hopped out of the dugout, reached into the stands to grab the kid and got him into the clubhouse immediately to get looked at by the doctors. A young Theo Epstein was also at this game, and referred to it yesterday. I hadn’t thought about that moment in years, but when Theo mentioned it, the memories immediately flooded back of Rice so heroically handling the situation.

Now, he is a Hall of Famer, and for those who watched him every day for most of his career, it is nice to see.

I’m looking forward to the night when No. 14 goes on the right-field facade next year. Hopefully they can do some re-arranging with the numbers so the sequence is 9, 8 and 14.

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