On any summer day in New England it's a good bet that Carl Yastrzemski is fishing on Plum Island Sound off the northern coast of Massachusetts, just as sure as you could have found him in the shadow of the Green Monster at Fenway Park during the 1960s and '70s. He fishes alone, for striped bass, the silence broken only by the occasional whizzing of his Shimano reel.� The last player to win baseball's Triple Crown, in Boston's Impossible Dream season of 1967, Yastrzemski retired in 1983 after 23 years with the Red Sox. Since then he has been elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, failed in a bid to become a minority owner of the Red Sox, worked briefly as a sportscaster for WNEV-TV in Boston, bought a 20% share in Ann's Boston Brownie Company and worked as a spokesman for Kahn's meat products.
Every October, Yastrzemski, 64, and his wife of two years, Nancy, leave their home in Boxford, Mass. (pop. 7,921), for six months in Delray, Fla. He spends most of that time playing golf at the all-male Adios Golf Club, but when the Red Sox go to spring training in Fort Myers, he makes the 150-mile trip across the state and spends four weeks showing minor leaguers the finer points of hitting. In April he and Nancy head back to Boxford.
Whether he's in Massachusetts or Florida, Yaz prefers to lead a private life and declines almost all interview requests except during spring training. When he does agree to talk to reporters, he refuses to say much about his personal life. When asked how he met Nancy, for example, he says, "Kind of like friends at first, and stuff like that, you know." When prompted to talk more about her, he adds, "Great person." (Yastrzemski has four grown children from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.) He even turned down a request to have his picture taken for this story.
"That's just him," says Mike Andrews, a former Boston teammate and chairman of The Jimmy Fund, a cancer research charity to which Yaz also contributes time. "He's a private guy. He's not one for the limelight."
Occasionally the Red Sox pay Yastrzemski to sign autographs and pose for pictures with the fans in Fenway's luxury suites, but he watches most games on a TV at home. "I love to track pitch location, which you can't see if you're in the ballpark," he says. Yastrzemski does one baseball card show a year, and every September he hosts a golf tournament in Bolton, Mass., to raise money for The Genesis Fund, which is dedicated to raising money for the care and treatment of children with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.
Otherwise, he's as hard to catch as a gently fluttering knuckleball. "When you get to my age," he says, "you can do whatever you want."
In the northern Kentucky hamlet of Verona there is a man who dreams of winning the thoroughbred Triple Crown—again. He is but a small-time breeder in the sport of kings and a long shot to accomplish the most celebrated feat in American horse racing, but as many learned a long time ago, don't bet against Steve Cauthen.� When he won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont the first time, in 1978, he was the 18-year-old jockey with a 12-year-old's face who rode Affirmed to three stirring victories over Alydar. No one has won the Triple Crown since, and today that 5'2", 95-pound jockey known as The Kid is 44 years old, has grown four inches and is a fit 140 pounds. Cauthen, wife Amy and their daughters Katelyn, 11, Karlie, 8, and Kelsey, 3, live on the grounds of their 484-acre breeding farm and training center, Dreamfields, five miles south of Steve's hometown of Walton.
His day usually begins at 6 a.m. with 30 minutes at his computer, analyzing and downloading bloodline information. Then he heads to the barn, where he joins his crew in feeding, grooming and exercising his current stock of 16 broodmares, 11 year-lings and 11 foals. Some days he'll go to the track to train horses belonging to various owners. He's back home by about 7 p.m. "It's very demanding because there are so many aspects to [the horse business]," he says. "But when you achieve success, that makes it all the more interesting, challenging and satisfying."
Cauthen achieved great success in 1977, when he won 487 races and a record $6.15 million and was named SI's Sportsman of the Year. He rode Affirmed to glory the following spring, then just as suddenly his career went sour. At one point in '79 he went winless for 110 straight races in California. Cauthen tried his luck in Europe, riding for gambling magnate Robert Sangster and winning a classic in his first month. But by the time he was 20, Cauthen was battling every jockey's nightmare: making weight. He starved himself, sometimes eating only a small salad a day, and sat for hours in the sweatbox trying to stay below 120 pounds. At the same time, he says, he started drinking almost every night. When he visited the U.S. in 1985, Cauthen entered a four-week alcohol-dependency program at a rehab center in Cincinnati. "I'd have a drink to not think about going all night without eating," he says. "Eventually I got tired and depressed."
Cauthen says he has been sober since coming out of rehab, though the toll of trying to make weight finally forced him into retirement in '92, at age 32, with 2,794 winners and three European riding titles. Steve and Amy, who were married that year, returned to their native Kentucky for good. Cauthen bought the land in Verona, which included a farm, and over the next five years they built a house and the breeding facility. Their broodmares have produced some small stakes winners, but Cauthen's pursuit of the Triple Crown as a breeder has just begun. "My dad told me a long time ago, 'If you find something that you love, you'll never have to work another day in your life,' " he says. "And I love what I do."