Friday, October 19, 2012

The Walking Man

One day about three years ago I was driving down Oak Street in my hometown of Wellesley MA. On the sidewalk was a man with white hair who looked to be 80-something. He waved me down and I pulled over to see if he needed help of some sort. He said he was fine, but just wanted to ask me about my license plate.

"Are those your initials?" I replied that they are not, that's the way I spell Kelley. With an EY at the end. I learned years ago that you can't say, "Kelley...with two E's" because people will starting writing Keelly. So I got my EY plate. I've ben asked about EY on many occasions. Usually I'm asked if I work for Ernst & Young. Once in a while I'll get a Fonzie from "Happy Days" reference. (Remember he often responded to something with, "Eeeeyyyy!" and there were Eeeeyyy bumper stickers in the 70's?) The man told me that those are his initials and not many people have them. He said his name was Eddie Yost.

I knew about Eddie Yost. He played for the Washington Senators - the team that is now the Minnesota Twins, not to be confused with the other Washington Senators who became the Texas Rangers. (Note on the above Yost baseball card they called the Senators the "Nats" - the same nickname today's Washington Nationals use.) Yost was a lead-off guy and specialized in getting on base via walks. His career on-base percentage is higher than Derek Jeter's. He lead the majors in walks six times, earning himself the nickname The Walking Man. I remember seeing him play on Opening Day at Griffith Stadium in Washington DC. We actually had 1st row seats that my father got from Sen. Leverett Saltonstall (R-Mass). Yost went 2 for 5 with 2 rbi's - and a walk - and 1 run scored as the Senators beat the Red Sox.

So I told Eddie Yost that I had worked for many years with Gay Vernon, daughter of Mickey Vernon, two-time AL Batting Champion and his long-time Washington Senators teammate. The Senators - the second version, the ones who moved to Texas - were an expansion team in 1961. Like the original Senators, they were horrible. Lost over 100 games the first several years. The first manager was Mickey Vernon, who was replaced with Eddie Yost. A couple of managers later they hired Ted Williams. This is proof that even a great ballplayer cannot succeed as a manager if the team itself has minimal talent. Eddie Yost subsequently moved to Wellesley and was the Red Sox 3rd base coach for eight seasons. When he got off the merry-go-round and retired he took up restoring antique merry-go-round horses. Eddie Yost, The Walking Man, was a chatty guy when you passed him on the street. This week he passed away at the age of 86.

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