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Billy Herman, a Higgins man, succeeded Pesky at the end of the 1964 season, but Yastrzemski continued to go his own way in 1965. Hoping to revive Yastrzemski as a spirited ballplayer, Herman decided to have a captain for the 1966 season and set up an election that was only slightly rigged. The captain had to be a regular, Herman said, and since Yastrzemski and the youthful Conigliaro were the only two definite regulars at the time, there was not much doubt that Carl would be elected. And he was.
"I didn't want to be captain," said Yastrzemski. "I had my own problems. As the season got along I started to feel that I wasn't a part of the team and that I was getting the cold shoulder. And every time someone had a gripe they came to me. Listen to this. One night Billy decided to make curfew an hour and 45 minutes after the game instead of the usual two and one-half hours, and he sent Sal Maglie to tell us. But some of the guys had left already, and they never knew of the early curfew.
"The next morning I get a call from a player, and he tells me that Billy caught him out after curfew and fined him $250. The player told me he did not know about the early curfew, because he left the clubhouse early. He asked me to see if I could get his money back. Well, that was on my mind the rest of the trip, until I accidentally found out that the player not only missed the early curfew but also missed the regular curfew by several hours. What was I supposed to do then?"
Then last September Herman was fired, and a few days later the Red Sox named Dick Williams their new manager. At his first appearance in Boston, Williams, who had played for the Red Sox in 1963 and 1964 and knew the complete situation, announced that he would not have a captain in 1967. This pleased Yastrzemski, who considered the position a burden. At about that time, though, Ed Short, the general manager of the White Sox, was planting rumors that he was ready to trade Gary Peters and some other player for Yastrzemski. The recurring rumor bothered Yastrzemski, because he had just built a $75,000 home in suburban Lynnfield and wanted to stay in Boston.
"Right then Mr. Yawkey called me in and told me not to worry, that they were not going to trade me, and later Dick O'Connell said the thought never entered their minds," said Yastrzemski. Now Carl started to prepare himself for 1967. He went to see a physical culturist named Gene Berde at a country club near his home. Berde could not believe that Yastrzemski was a baseball player because, according to Berde's standards, he really was not in top shape. For four months last winter Carl worked for 90 minutes a day on an exercise program designed to strengthen existing muscles, develop new ones and eliminate breathing problems during athletic competition.
Physically strong, Yastrzemski reported early for spring training and immediately sought out Dick Williams. "He told me he'd do anything I wanted," says Williams, "and all I can tell you now is that he has been the perfect player all year. He could not play any better than he has."
Now managers are trying to psych him, and pitchers and catchers are studying charts, trying to figure out what pitch he cannot hit. "Our club," says Elston Howard of the Red Sox, referring to his old team, the Yankees, "tried breaking balls low and away and then down in at him, but now we don't throw him breaking stuff at all, because he kills it. We can get Frank Robinson out with breaking stuff but not Yastrzemski. Now the Yankees are going to throw fast balls at him in tight and see what happens."
Eddie Stanky of the White Sox started the psych a few weeks ago when he called Yastrzemski an All-Star from the neck down. The same day Yastrzemski read Stanky's remark in the papers he received a telegram that read, STANKY'S TRYING TO PSYCH YOU LIKE RED AUERBACH PSYCHS WILT CHAMBERLAIN. DON'T GET MAD. (signed) AN ANGEL. Then he went out that day and got six hits in a doubleheader against the White Sox. He hit a home run, and as he rounded third base he looked into the dugout and tipped his hat at Stanky.
Yastrzemski, too, is a changed person around his teammates. "He used to get us pitchers mad, especially Bill Monbouquette," says Jim Lonborg, "because when someone would hit a home run off us he'd just stand there and not even turn and look at the ball. I mean, at least he could make it look as though the ball was not hit so hard. In fact, I talked to him about that myself this past spring."
And this year, for the first time, there is a strong rapport between Yastrzemski and Conigliaro. "I don't think we were jealous of each other, at least I wasn't jealous," says Yastrzemski, "but for some reason when Tony came up in 1964 we stayed away from each other." Conigliaro, who was born and raised in the Boston area, says, "I didn't like Yaz my first year or two, because he did things that made me mad. Like he didn't give 100% all the time."