For many people, 1939 was the last year of innocence before Germany invaded Poland and begun the six-year battle we now call World War II. Although America would not be brought into the conflict until 1941, we were all very aware of the world’s events through such great newscasters as Edward R. Murrow reporting from London during the German Blitz.
However, for a very young man born in August 1939 or scant years before the conflagration began, his early years were spent on a Long Island potato farm far away from the world’s danger. Within 20 years he would become a high-priced “bonus” baby but not one subject to the previous rules of having to spend two full years on a major league roster. Although a few of those “bonus babies” would turn out to have great careers, most noticeably Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew and Sandy Koufax, many would spend their two years in the majors and never be heard from again. Other than their families and 1950’s card collectors who would remember Tommy Carroll or Frank Zupo among others in their place in baseball history?
Fortunately for Carl Yastrzemski, the major league roster spot requirement was eliminated before he signed his first professional contract with a reported $108,000 bonus.
Yaz would spend two years tearing up the minor leagues before becoming Ted Williams’ replacement in left field for the Boston Red Sox. He did take several years before he was truly able to become the superstar predicted for him when he signed his first contract.
During the 1967 season, everything coalesced for both the Red Sox and Yaz as he would win what would be the last triple crown of the 20th century and his Red Sox would climb from ninth place to first in the season that became known as the “Impossible Dream.” After that season, Yaz would always be regarded as a superstar and continued to be a well admired player until he retired at the age of 44.
His rookie card arrived in 1960 but for Red Sox fans who recall some of the players who toiled during that long drought between World Series championships, it’s the ’67 card (#355) that’s special and prices do reflect that. It’s not rare—just popular.
While a near mint, ungraded example can be found for $30-40, expect to pay $30-40 for a graded 7, $200 for an 8 and $700 or more for a 9. PSA has only awarded the 9 grade to 48 copies of the card with only three 10s in existence.
Yaz also has a very scarce card in the 1967 Topps Venezuelan issue and was in the 1967 Topps insert poster set as well.
The back of his card refers to the bonus the Red Sox had given Yastrzemski, who at the time was enrolled at Notre Dame. It turned out to be money well spent.
See Yaz’s 1967 cards on eBay here.