RED SOX RECLUSE : FORMER LEFT FIELDER YASTRZEMSKI PLEASED TO BE OUT OF LIMELIGHT.
For 23 years, he was part of daily life in New England. His name was in the box scores we read over breakfast every morning. The likes of Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin and Ken Coleman broadcast his heroic deeds every night.
No less than Arthur Fiedler, Don Kent, and ``Candlepins for Cash,'' Carl Yastrzemski was part of the Boston experience.
Then he went away. Vanished. Completely. The man we called Yaz retired in 1983 and became Boston sports' answer to J.D. Salinger.
No card shows. No old-timers' games. No glad-hander at casinos or baby-kissing on the campaign trail. No talk radio or photo ops with Bob Kraft. Yaz became the Hardball Garbo. Compared with Yaz, the reclusive Larry Bird seemed almost ubiquitous.
``That's by design,'' Yaz said, sitting on a golf cart at the Red Sox minor-league complex in Fort Myers, Fla. ``I just like my privacy and quiet. I had 23 years of limelight. That was enough.''
He is 57 years old and does not need to work. So he doesn't work. The year goes something like this: For six weeks in March and April, he gives batting instructions to Red Sox minor leaguers for a few hours every morning. He goes to his Andover, Mass., home later in the spring, then from June through October spends all his weekdays fishing for striped bass on the rivers of Maine. His golf tournament for the Genesis Fund is held in September. Then he goes back to Florida for a winter of golfing.
By his own estimate, other than his six weeks with the Sox minor leaguers, Yaz works no more than 20 days per year, making rare appearances for a meat company.
``That's enough,'' he said, taking a drag on another cigarette. ``My golf game's good. The fishing's good. I was very fortunate. I made some good investments. I've been with Hillshire Farm-Kahn since 1976. I have a great setup there. I know what I have to do in New England and Florida. They leave me alone and let me set my own schedule.''
He said there is no temptation to sit behind a table and sign his name for easy cash.
``The government takes it all, anyway, so what difference does it make?'' he asked. ``I might do one show a year. I just don't do any of that stuff. I got the thing with Sara Lee, which is a division of Hillshire Farms. And the rest of the time is my own.''
He said he doesn't read the newspaper but he has opinions about the Red Sox.
``I've got NESN in my cabin in Maine. I watch the games. They might be all right this year. I think everybody may have their expectations a little too low. I like the pitching. We know they're going to score runs, there's no doubt about it. I think the Garciaparra-Valentin move tightens up the infield. If they stay away from injuries, they should have a pretty decent pitching staff.
``I like their team better this year than I did last year.
``(Sox scout) Eddie Haas said (John) Valentin looks great at second. Hey, Rico (Petrocelli) made a move. This kid (Nomar Garciaparra) can field and he swings a pretty good bat. As long as Valentin's not uncomfortable with second base, that's great.''
Yaz is not a storyteller. He likes being alone.
``Up in Maine, I don't get bothered,'' he said. ``I go fishing by myself. I don't go out and eat. I always eat at home. I order takeouts. Here in spring training, I've got a condo on a golf course and there's a restaurant about five minutes from me. I call in and they deliver the food. I just don't usually go out.
``When you're in the limelight, you've had enough.''
Told that some ex-players seem to miss the attention and adulation, he said, ``Well, they got to be nuts.''
Photo: (1-2) Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski holds an enlarged version of his baseball card. In 1967 he won the Triple Crown, leading the American League in homers, RBI and batting average.
Daily News File Photo
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Mar 23, 1997|
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