BOSTON (CBS) — This is no ordinary road series for Mike Yastrzemski. It’s one that has been a lifetime in the making.
The Andover native and grandson of Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski will finally get to hear his name announced at Fenway Park, the ballyard where his grandfather enjoyed a Hall of Fame career. After a lengthy stay in the minors with the Baltimore Orioles, Yastrzemski has broken out with the San Francisco Giants this season.
The 29-year-old rookie is finally living his dream as a major leaguer, and starting Tuesday, he gets to spend three nights in the place where his love for baseball grew.
“I was a big time fan of the Red Sox growing up and to be able to come here and play is the cherry on top,” he told reporters at Fenway Park on Tuesday.
The Red Sox have made the younger Yaz feel right at home for his visit. He was able to walk into the ballpark by himself, and few minutes later, share the outfield with his grandfather.
“It was awesome. We got a chance to catch up; I don’t normally get to see him during the season so that’s a bonus,” he said. “You always hold a special place in your heart for your grandfathers. To have him here, it’s awesome.”
Mike said he didn’t realize how great of a career — and impact on Boston — his grandfather had until he was in high school. When he turned 23 himself, the same number of years that Carl Yastrzemski played for the Red Sox, is when his grandfather’s accomplishments really hit him.
“When I turned 23, that was the shocking moment. For my entire life, he had shown up to Fenway Park every day,” he explained. “That blew my mind where I was like, ‘I can’t picture 23 years’ worth of Major League experience, and that’s when that really set in.”
Playing at Fenway has always been a dream of the younger Yastrzemski. He knew the Giants had a visit to Boston on their schedule when he was called up in May, but his focus was on making it to the next day and not a few months down the road.
“It’s always a dream to play here when you’re a kid growing up in New England, but I kept it very focused on surviving one more day in the big leagues. There had been a lot of turnover on our team and I knew that they were looking for production. In order to make it to Boston I had to play well, so I never really kept focus on it,” he said. “I got some questions and I said I had to make it to Boston before I talk about it, so I guess I can talk about it now.”
Given the path he’s had to take to the majors, not much can rattle the younger Yastrzemski. But he couldn’t help but feel a rush of emotions when he first stepped on the field on Tuesday.
“I got to walk in here by myself when I got to the field, and there were a lot of memories of being in the stands; in the stands for the World Series, the 1999 Home Run Derby and All-Star game, being at games with family. Those things overwhelm me more than actually playing here,” he said. “Playing here is cool, and I see it as part of my job and something I‘ve always wanted to do, so that doesn’t overwhelm me. But being able to do it in a setting where I have so many fond memories with friends and family, and then having them able to be here is special.
“I don’t get wrapped up in moments easily, and I’ve trained myself to block out situations and crowd noise, stuff like that. I think tonight, I need to take a step back and get lost in maybe one of the moments and let myself appreciate that and experience,” he admitted. “Then we can get back to business and play baseball.”