Yastrzemski won't give up rod and reel for bat and ball any time soon

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2002

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Just because Carl Yastrzemski likes the incoming owners of the Boston Red Sox, don't expect him to devote much more time to the club.

He has too much fishing to do.

The Hall of Famer, who retired from the Red Sox in 1983, plans to spend three weeks in spring training working mostly with minor league hitters.

But the new regime's emphasis on increasing the team's role and visibility in the community won't get much input from Yastrzemski during the regular season.

''That's my fishing season,'' Yastrzemski said. ''I fish every day starting May 15 to October 15.''

That's one reason he never wanted to be a coach or manager. He only attended two games last season at Fenway Park but saw many more on television.

This season, he's optimistic the team can do well with new owner John Henry. The deal for Henry to take over from the Yawkey Trust is expected to be completed on Wednesday.

Yastrzemski, 62, was friends with former owner Tom Yawkey, who owned the team from 1933 to his death in 1976.

Although the Yawkey Trust owns the team until Henry takes over, the Yawkey era ''kind of ended for me when Tom died,'' Yastrzemski said. ''We were very close. We both loved baseball, the Red Sox and New England. The one thing I regret is that we couldn't bring him a world championship.''

Yastrzemski played in the 1967 and 1975 World Series. The Red Sox lost both in the seventh game and haven't won a championship since 1918.

Now it's up to Henry's group to try and end that streak.

''I talked to new ownership and they seem very involved and I like the people and I think they'll do a great job,'' Yastrzemski said.

He said Henry called him the day the new ownership group was chosen.

''He just said, 'I want you to be the first one to know that we've been approved by the Red Sox,''' Yastrzemski said.

''I think he's just a down-to-earth guy, just like Mr. Yawkey. He walks around, introduces himself to people.''

Yastrzemski expects to work more this season in the major league camp than in the past where his former teammates -- Jim Rice, Dwight Evans and Luis Tiant -- are working as coaches.

But his main interest is in helping minor leaguers.

''It's great satisfaction to see kids improve and go on to the major leagues,'' he said.

He also enjoys watching an old player like Rickey Henderson, in his first season with the Red Sox at age 43. He played against Yastrzemski from 1979 through 1983, and the former Boston star joked that he'd play again under one condition.

''I'll hit and he can run,'' Yastrzemski said. ''Then I'll make a comeback.''

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