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Carl Yastrzemski

Carl Yastrzemski

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Published by John Farrell
From my late father's memoir. Remembering his friendship with Red Sox slugger Carl Yastrzemski.
From my late father's memoir. Remembering his friendship with Red Sox slugger Carl Yastrzemski.

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Published by: John Farrell on May 19, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/19/2011

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Herald Saga1
Carl Yastrzemski
Former Boston Red Sox superstar Carl Yastrzemski succeeded Ted Williams as the Soxleft fielder in 1961. The Long Island native began his transition to first base in 1974 andwould star at that position throughout the rest of that decade and into the 1980s.The leading glove makers at the time were the Wilson and Spalding sporting goodscompanies, both vying for the services of baseball's top stars with contracts worth far lessthan the lavish deals now made with players of Yastrzemski's caliber.Yastrzemski's contract with A. G. Spalding Co. of Chicopee, Mass. paid him $7,500-a-year plus the right to fill his station wagon once-a-year with various sporting goodsSpalding made at its plant in western Mass. In addition to the rights to use his name onoutfielders' gloves and first basemen's mitts, the company required Yaz to make an annualtour of the Chicopee plant to autograph pictures of himself for every piece-workerencountered during these outings.That was the setting one day in early December, 1974, when Yastrzemski called andasked if I would like to accompany him the following day on his annual tour of theSpalding plant. We were longtime friends.When we arrived in Chicopee which is about an hour and a half's ride out the Mass.Turnpike from Boston, we were met by Jacque Hetrick, Spalding's vice president for publicrelations.Armed with a carton of photographs of the slugger, Hetrick led the way down one lineafter another of assembly workers making a wide variety of sporting goods which includedtennis racquets and balls, basketballs, golf clubs and balls, sneakers, baseball gloves andbaseballs. The covers of the machine-made baseballs used by the major leagues at that timewere handstitched by highly skilled specialists.In 1975 this aspect of manufacturing baseballs would be shifted to Haiti where labor costswere a fraction of what they were in Chicopee or any other U.S. city.Most of the piece workers at the western Massachusetts plant were women of Polishextraction from Chicopee and its environs. Needless to say, they were ecstatic asYastrzemski—perhaps perhaps the American sports world's No. 1 athlete of Polish descentat the time—personally autographed a photo of himself for each of them. And there werehundreds of adoring workers throughout the sprawling plant.After four long hours, Hetrick advised Yaz that Richard M. Geisler, the new CEO of theconglomerate which had taken over the Spalding Co. earlier in the year, was in town from his

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