Eddie Yost died at 86

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Eddie Yost died at 86

Postby welch » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:58 pm

Eddie Yost, the great Nats 3B, died yesterday. His SABR biography is here:


It begins

Eddie Yost was a slick-fielding, high-on-base-percentage third baseman, an athlete who continued to make his name at the hot corner after his playing days were over, as the third base coach for the Washington Senators, New York Mets, and Boston Red Sox. Known as “The Walking Man” for his propensity at getting bases on balls, he played in more games than any third baseman before him, though he was often overlooked because he spent most of his career in cavernous Griffith Stadium playing for the dreadful Senators.

The 5-foot-10 right-handed hitter had a lifetime batting average of only .254, but because of his penchant for drawing walks, his career on-base percentage was .394. Yost’s best season with the Senators was 1950, when he hit .295 with 141 walks, and an on-base percentage of .440. One season, which best demonstrated the split between his batting average and his on-base percentage was 1956, when Yost hit only.231 but walked a career-high 151 times. His on-base percentage was a robust .412. Standing close to the plate, he was also hit by pitches 99 times in his career.

During that 1956 season, with Mickey Mantle receiving plenty of publicity for challenging Babe Ruth’s home run record of 60—the Mick wound up with 52 en route to the Triple Crown—the Senators issued a release about Yost’s challenge to the Babe’s 1923 record for walks. In late August, Yost averaged 1.1 walks per game and was on pace to break Ruth’s mark of 170. Though he fell short of the mark, Yost broke his own club record for walks and led the league by 39 over Mantle.

Had Yost played several decades later, in the free-agency era, his skills would have been much more valued. As it was, he made the All-Star team only once while playing on a Washington team that never finished better than .500 and ended up in last place five times during his career there. Moreover, Washington’s ballpark was cavernous—Griffith Stadium was 405 feet down the line in left field until it was reduced to 350 in 1957. Of the 101 home runs he hit as a Senator, 78 were hit on the road. He homered in every park in 1953—a year that he hit nine all told—and only one of those was hit at home. In his first seven full seasons as a Senator, only three of his 55 home runs were hit at Griffith Stadium.

Eddie Yost was a good fielder, a strong hitter, and he led the AL in walks eight seasons. I believe that only Yost, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle led the league in walks during the year Eddie played.

During my last visit to Nats Park, I pulled out a 1959-60 Senators jersey, Number 3, autographed by Harmon Killebrew. My kids gav it to me about 15 years ago, but I vowed not to wear it until we had a team again. First game I came down for, Yost's successor as Nats 3B, Ryan Zimmerman, won it with a homerun in the 9th. This year, I waved the jersey like a flag -- it was a scorching day game -- and the Nats beats the Braves.

I saw a fellow my age sitting behind me, and said, "Killer was with the Nats today."

He answered, "We could use some Eddie Yost, too!"

Rest in peace, Mr. Number 1.

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