Two players named Yastrzemski took the baseball spotlight this week, but a third was hardly mentioned

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Carl and Mike Yastrzemski share a hug on the field at Fenway Park.

By Joel Alderman

Some unique and heartwarming moments in the annals of major league baseball took place in Boston this week involving a superstar of the past and a rookie of the present. They were Carl Yastrzemski and his grandson, Mike, bearing the same last name with the difficult spelling.

Reams of newspaper and online articles were issued about this happy reunion, along with tweets and reader comments on the internet. Since there was no shortage of media coverage about the two, we decided to delve into what perhaps 99 percent of the writers and broadcasters failed to mention. In doing our research, some facts about the Yastrzemski family were revealed that could have been reported but were basically ignored. We aim to rectify that in the paragraphs to follow.

Grandfather and grandson appeared together

Most fans learned for the first time this week that Mike Yastrzemski, a rookie with the San Francisco Giants, is the grandson of Carl Michael Yastrzemski, a Hall of Famer whose number 8 is displayed on the outfield wall in Fenway Park and who played his entire 23-year career with the Boston Red Sox. Yaz celebrated his 80th birthday less than a month ago on Aug. 22nd.

But we knew little or nothing about Yastrzemski’s son, who was Mike’s father. What we learned is not a happy story, but, for the sake of the record, as they say, should be made known.

Two Yastrzemski’s, a son and father

Carl Michael Yastrzemski Jr. was the only son of the Hall of Famer. Sadly and unexpectedly he died from a blood clot on Sept. 15, 2004, a few days after undergoing hip surgery, according to The Eagle-Tribune of Andover, Mass. He was 44 and lived in Holyoke, Mass.

Mike Yastrzemski (Carl’s son and Mike’s father, is shown while at Florida State).

He was known in baseball by his middle name, and called Mike. His son, who is formally Michael Andrew Yastrzemski, is also referred to as Mike. Though he never made the major leagues, Mike (Carl Jr.) had an outstanding career at Florida State University and played minor league ball. He appeared in 279 games from 1980 to 1983, the most by any Florida State player at the time of his passing and perhaps even now.

In 1980 as a freshman he was MVP in the NCAA South Regional Tournament as FSU advanced to the College World Series under coach Mike Martin.

Over four seasons he drove in 223 runs and scored 244. Mike was captain of the 1983 team, and finished his college career with a .292 batting average. He was named Metro Conference all-tournament three times, and in 1980 he was the MVP in the league’s all-tournament team.

Before entering FSU he played high school ball at Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale.

After college he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves and reached Triple-A in the Chicago White Sox organization but never made it to the bigs.

When he died so unexpectedly, his son (the present San Francisco Giant) was 16.

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Mike Yastrzemski (Carl’s son, left) playing at Florida State.

The common denominator

So while we can again celebrate the great life work of Carl Yastrzemski and the budding baseball career of grandson Michael Andrew Yastrzemski, we should pause to recognize the common denominator of the two, Carl Michael Yastrzemski Jr, a baseball player in his own right.

Grandfather and grandson surely had some private moments of respect and reflection about the same person, the son of one and the father of the other.

This is truly the story behind the story, the sadness behind the happiness that was undoubtedly experienced by the grandfather and grandson Yastrzemski’s. It is unfortunate that most of the public was never made aware of it.

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