There were screams of joy in the Yastrzemski house on the North Shore when San Francisco Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski laced into a 96-mile-an-hour Nathan Eovaldi fastball Tuesday night and sent it rocketing toward the center-field bleachers at Fenway Park.
Carl Yastrzemski — the man they call Yaz — who hit 237 home runs at Fenway Park in a 23-year Hall of Fame career, wasn’t screaming to his grandson; he was talking directly to the ball.
It had been 19 million minutes since Yaz last homered at Fenway Park in 1983, and No. 8 was taking nothing for granted. He knows that center field is the deepest part of the park, and he was trying to will the ball into the bleachers.
“I just kept saying, ‘Get up, get up,’ ” said Yaz. “I didn’t think he hit it high enough.”
The ball landed 401 feet away, a couple of rows deep, and Mike Yastrzemski ran around the bases the way his grandfather used to: very classy, no bat flip, no pointing toward the heavens. After laboring in the minors for 703 games, the 29-year-old rookie had hit his 20th homer since being called up by the Giants May 25.
Back at the Yastrzemski home, “The phones started blowing up,” according to Carl’s wife Nancy.
Yaz sat back and took it all in.
“I was kind of stunned, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I was just happy. It was a storybook finish.
“For him to strike out the first time up and then come back, walk his second time up, and then hit the home run his third time up, he showed great concentration. He’s tough mentally.”
Later that night, Mike added a ground-rule double to deep center.
“If he pulled it a few more feet, it would’ve been another home run,” said Yaz, who watched all 15 innings on TV.
“I’m used to it,” he said. “I watch the Red Sox at 7 o’clock and the Giants at 10:15 p.m. So I watch 18 innings a day.”
Yaz believes there may have been some divine intervention at work at Fenway that night. His only son, also Mike Yastrzemski, and also a former minor leaguer, died in September 2004 of complications after hip surgery. He was just 43.
“I’m sure he was looking down on him,” said Yaz. “They were close — very, very close.”
On his father’s birthday, Aug. 16, young Mike Yastrzemski had his best day, hitting three home runs, including the game-winner, against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Andover native also feels there was some divine intervention at Fenway.
“For sure,” he said. “Having my dad and grandfather and great-grandfather watching over me definitely had something to do with it.”
But he’s definitely his own man. When the Giants called him up, they offered Mike No. 8, but he turned it down. He chose No. 5.
“If you want to call it superstition, you can, but it just felt right,” he said. “I wore 5 in Sacramento and it worked out pretty well for me.”
On Tuesday morning, Yaz came to Fenway hours before batting practice to show his support for Mike. He made it clear he wasn’t going to stay for the game, though.
He almost never does. After playing in more baseball games for one team than anybody else in baseball history, he likes to watch on the big screen in the comfort of his own home, with his wife, two dogs, and two cats. (There are also two horses.)
Yaz says he can see pitch location better on TV. Plus, the last time he had attended one of Mike’s games, he thought his grandson was pressing too much because of it.
On Tuesday, Yaz walked the outfield in front of the Green Monster with his grandson, and warned him about the caroms being different off the scoreboard than off the wall above it. He gave Mike a hug and beat the traffic home.
Mike, who was in the lineup batting leadoff and playing left field, remained serene and calm. When asked who would be more nervous — him or his famous grandfather — he didn’t hesitate.
“Him, for sure,” he said. “I’m just going to have fun. This is the greatest thing ever.”
Tyler Beede, a Giants pitcher from Worcester who was Mike Yastrzemski’s roommate at Vanderbilt, said the players were abuzz in the dugout before the game.
“Everyone said he was going to hit his 20th home run tonight,” said Beede. “He was locked in. He was all business.”
Mike said he felt the love of Red Sox Nation all night long. But he didn’t hear from his grandfather after the game.
“No, I’m sure he was sleeping,” he said. “I think he stayed up, but the second the game was over, he was out cold.”
On Wednesday, Yaz agreed to throw out the first pitch to his grandson. Mike was thrilled.
“It’s definitely something I’ll remember forever,” he said. “Has an opposing player ever caught a first pitch before?”
He also gently needled his 80-year-old grandfather.
“I told him not to short-hop it,” said Mike. “He said, ‘I’ll probably throw it over your head.’ ’’
Just before game time, Yaz came out of the Red Sox dugout with his game face on. He went to the mound and threw a high-arcing strike, perfectly framed by his grandson.
Then Yaz joined family and friends in a packed fifth-floor suite overlooking the Green Monster. Even Jaxon McCarthy, Yaz’s 6-month-old great-grandson, was in attendance, nibbling on a hot dog.
Yaz was in good spirits, even though he missed Mike’s first at-bat.
“Yeah, it took me a while to get up here,” he said with a grin. “I had to ice my elbow.”
Yaz watched his grandson ground out to second base in the second inning, then he hugged family and friends and walked arm in arm with Nancy to the parking lot.
“I’d rather watch it on TV,” he said.
At 8:05 p.m., after stopping to sign a couple of Yaz T-shirts for fans, he got into a chauffeur-driven SUV with tinted windows, motor already running, and headed home, presumably in time to see his grandson’s RBI single in the ninth inning.
Stan Grossfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.