Two statues featuring Ted Williams already adorn an area outside of Fenway Park, so it makes sense the Boston Red Sox installed a statue of their second-best player, Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.
The AL MVP and triple crown winner for a World Series team in 1967, Yaz got his statue along with a 30-minute ceremony to go with it Sunday. He played exclusively with the Red Sox starting in 1961, joining them a season after Ted Williams retired, replacing him in left field. Replacing Ted Williams, if you can imagine what that must have felt like. Rarely (if ever) was Yastrzemski able to have a better season than Williams, not that it was a reasonable request. Neither of them won a World Series in their respective time, which of course was the fault of anyone but Williams and Yastrzemski. Although, Yaz did famously pop up for the last out of the infamous 1978 Bucky Dent game against the Yankees in his last, best chance to win come October.
Another iconic image of Yastrzemski in my head: Him taking a victory lap around Fenway after his final home game in 1983, perhaps an unconscious inspiration for Cal Ripken doing likewise years later.
It was known early in '83, or even before, that it would be the last go-round for Yaz and Johnny Bench. They were special All-Star picks at Comiskey Park for the 50th anniversary game, but I don't recall either of them getting quite the long good-bye treatment that Mariano Rivera and other recent announced retirees have.
Via the Associated Press, Yaz let it be known how honored he was at having his likeness turned into sculpture:
''It means tremendous importance to me,'' he said, standing at the base of the statue after a 30-minute ceremony that included some of his former teammates and current members of the AL East champions. ''This is as important to me as being elected to the Hall of Fame and having my number retired. It's a tremendous honor.''
The Red Sox are second to none in revering their own history, but it seems to me that a natural casualty of the team's recent success — notably winning the World Series in 2004 and 2007 — has caused some of the franchise's older longtime greats to be lost in the shuffle a little bit. Yaz's statue, situated near one of Williams engaging a young boy with cancer, along with another monument with Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr — called "Teammates" — gets the franchise up to speed.
Yastrzemski finished with a line of .285/.379/.462 with 452 home runs and 3,419 hits nearly 14,000 plate appearances over 23 seasons. He's eighth, all time, in total bases. He also was a seven-time Gold Glove winner, and though that's not the best measure of a person's defense, Yaz had a great reputation for knowing how to play the Green Monster better than most others.