Carl Yastrzemski
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Today in Baseball History: Carl Yastrzemski debuts, records first hit


The Boston Red Sox lost 5-2 to the Kansas City Athletics on Opening Day. Boston collected 10 hits but stranded 12 men on base. So began the post-Ted Williams era in Boston, a brave new world that lacked the presence of arguably the greatest hitter to ever live.

The Sox had new left fielder that day, as necessitated by Teddy Ballgame’s retirement. A 21-year-old from New York, the kid struck out twice and registered his first big league hit, and was promptly caught stealing for the third out of the inning. His name was Carl Yastrzemski, and the hit was the first of 3,419 he would record in the big leagues.

It boggles the mind that the Red Sox so easily transitioned from one Hall of Fame-level franchise cornerstone to the next. Yaz’s first season was relatively unremarkable, but he leaped from a 91 OPS+ to a 120 the next year and didn’t look back. He didn’t register an OPS+ under 100 for a season until he was 41, and went back to above-average marks for his final two years in the league.

Yastrzemski’s crowning achievement came six years after his debut. His 1967 season saw him post a hilarious .326/.418/.622 line and take home the Triple Crown and the MVP award. He added a Gold Glove for good measure, because why not? Yaz then lead the league in two of the three Triple Crown categories the following year, and did the same in 1970.

That’ll do.

Yastrzemski played until he was 43 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame with 94.63% of the vote.

Another fun note in April 11th baseball history: Mike Leake made his big league debut on this day in 2010. Leake is the last player to have debuted in the majors without playing a minor league game, and was the first to accomplish the feat since Xavier Nady did it in 2000.

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Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.