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The Boston Globe

Obituaries

Eddie Yost, infielder; coached Mets, Sox

Eddie Yost (left) with Mets rookie Wayne Garrett in 1969.

New York Times

Eddie Yost (left) with Mets rookie Wayne Garrett in 1969.

NEW YORK — Eddie Yost, a durable and reliable third baseman for three American League teams whose penchant for garnering bases on balls earned him the nickname the Walking Man, died Tuesday in Weston, Mass.

He was 86.

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The death was confirmed by his daughter Felita Yost Carr, who said her father had heart problems.

Mr. Yost made his major league debut with the Washington Senators in 1944, when he was 17, and never played in the minor leagues.

Fourteen of his 18 big-league seasons were spent with the lowly Senators, who finished as high as fourth just once while he was playing for them.

He was, however, a stalwart, playing in 829 consecutive games from August 1949 to May 1955, still the ninth- ­longest streak in baseball history.

He was the sort of pesky player who gave more powerful teams fits; in the early 1950s, the New York Yankees were known to covet him, though they never managed to pry him away in a trade. Casey ­Stengel, the Yankee manager, selected Mr. Yost for the 1952 All-Star Game, his only such honor, even though Mr. Yost was in the midst of a season in which he hit just .233.

“Every time I look up, that feller is on base,’’ Stengel said.

Indeed, Mr. Yost’s forte was getting on base, especially by way of the walk.

A student of opposing pitchers, he had a keen eye, a precise sense of the strike zone, and the deft bat control to spoil good pitchers’ pitches by fouling them off.

In one game, in 1953, he fouled off a total of 20 pitches in two consecutive at bats.

Mr. Yost led the American League in walks six times, and though he was a below-average hitter, his on-base percentage was over .400, a stellar figure, in nine different seasons. He led the league in that category twice.

He also had some power, hitting 139 home runs, despite playing most of his home games in ­Washington’s notoriously spacious Griffith Stadium.

If Mr. Yost had played a few decades later, in the ‘‘Moneyball’’ era, when the ability to get on base ­became a more valued quality, he might have achieved greater fame. For his career he batted just .254, but his on-base percentage was .394, higher than that of a long list of current or future Hall of Famers, including Frank Robinson (.389), Tony Gwynn (.388), Willie Mays (.384), and Derek Jeter (.382).

Edward Frederick Yost was born in Brooklyn on Oct. 13, 1926, and grew up in Queens. His father, Frederick, was a typesetter for a printing company. Edward went to John Adams High School in Queens and entered New York University, where as a freshman he played basketball and baseball.

In summer 1944, he had tryouts with the Red Sox as well as the Senators, who signed him and had him playing in seven games for the team before his 18th birthday.

During the off-season he joined the US Navy, serving 18 months in the United States as World War II came to an end.

He would later finish his studies at NYU, attending classes during the off-season and earning a bachelor’s degree from the school of education in 1951.

When he returned to the Senators in 1946, they wanted to send him to the minors to hone his skills, but a provision of the GI Bill that guaranteed a returning serviceman the job he left behind forced the Senators to keep him.

Mr. Yost was actually in favor of going to the minors, believing that he was not yet ready for the big leagues, and he wrote to the commissioner of baseball, Happy Chandler, offering to waive his right to stay with the Senators. Chandler, however, kept him where he was, evidently wary of setting a precedent.

Mr. Yost played in only eight games for the Senators in 1946, but by the middle of the following season he was the regular third baseman.

He finished his career playing two seasons for the Detroit Tigers and two more for an expansion team, the Los Angeles Angels.

While with Detroit, he met his wife, the former Patricia Healy, who worked in public relations for the club. She died in 2007.

In addition to his daughter Felita, he leaves another daughter, Alexis Yost Fougere; a son, Michael; a sister, Rosemary Huebner; and two grandchildren. In his later years, he lived in Wellesley Hills, Mass., where he restored antique carousel horses.

When his playing days were done, Mr. Yost spent more than two decades as a coach, first for the expan­sion Washington Senators (the original Senators had moved to Minnesota and became the Twins) and later for the Boston Red Sox. In between, from 1968 to 1976, he coached third base for the Mets, not far from where he grew up. In 1969, the so-called Miracle Mets unexpectedly won the World Series, Mr. Yost’s only taste of a championship.

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