- Beretta leaves Maryland over gun laws, heads for Tennessee
- Neal Boortz defends Hillary Clinton for representing child rapist
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
HELLER: Instead of swinging, Eddie Yost just walked away
Question of the Day
Some disrespectful fans in these parts often unleashed a special yowl when Eddie Yost, the Washington Senators' longtime leadoff man, strode to the plate in the 1950s: "Take the bat off your shoulder, Eddie!"
When Yost died last week at 86 in Weston, Mass., he was properly remembered as "The Walking Man" — an otherwise undistinguished batter who drew more than 100 bases on balls in eight seasons, led the American League in six and reached first 1,614 times without putting the ball in play.
In some ways, Yost was a victim of his reputation. Taking far more good pitches than he should have, he batted under .250 in eight of his 16 full seasons with the Senators and two other teams and never was much of an offensive threat after hitting .295 in 1950 and .283 in '51.
Nonetheless, third baseman Yost qualified as one of the few significant ballplayers on mostly terrible Washington teams of the Truman and Eisenhower years. Only first baseman and two-time batting champion Mickey Vernon was as generally popular as long with the area's long-suffering baseball faithful.
Eventually, however, many wearied of seeing Yost pass up hittable strikes while waiting for free passes to first. Before sluggers Roy Sievers, Jim Lemon, Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison arrived in the late '50s, the Senators had very few hitters capable of driving in Yost or anybody else.
Earlier in the decade, Yost was considered a valuable piece of horsehide horseflesh. After Eddie made the AL All-Star team for the only time in 1952, Senators owner Clark Griffith babbled, "I wouldn't swap him for Mickey Mantle straight up."
If you're scoring at home, mark that down as EO — error owner.
"I suppose Eddie might have got locked in waiting for walks too much," said Bob Wolff, who broadcast the Senators' games for most of Yost's career, "but he saw his primary job as simply getting on base. He had a very quick bat that enabled him to foul off a lot of pitches."
After Yost batted just .224 in 1958, the Senators swapped him to Detroit for Reno Bertoia in a multiplayer deal that proved disastrous. Eddie rebounded to hit .278 with a career high 21 home runs for the Tigers in '59 while Bertoia pecked away at .237 for the Senators.
Sometimes ya just can't win, literally and figuratively.
I don't know whether Yost was unlucky in love, but he certainly was unlucky in baseball. During his 12 full years in Washington, the Senators had one winning season. And Griffith Stadium's cavernous dimensions — 405 feet down the left-field line compared with 337 at Nationals Park — prevented Eddie from hitting more than 12 homers in a season. So perhaps it was no wonder that he swung less than Lawrence Welk.
Yost's career batting average was .254, but his on-base percentage was a whopping .394, higher than those of Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Tony Gwynn and Willie Mays among others.
"Those pitchers aren't walking me because they feel friendly to me," Yost told The Washington Post in 1953. "They pitch to me like I'm a .400 hitter."
Maybe Eddie was born 60 years too late. He should have been playing in 1887, when walks counted as hits and a guy named Tip O'Neill (no, not the future speaker of the House) batted .435 for the St. Louis Browns of the then-major league American Association.
In retrospect, Eddie Yost wasn't a great player — merely a good one with a great batting eye. But it's interesting to speculate what he might have done statistically had he not so often stood there until, to quote from a popular Gilded Age song, after the ball was over.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- HELLER: Peering into a cracked crystal ball
- HELLER: Jack Pardee a class act during his days in D.C.
- HELLER: Stability is why ACC basketball became a power
- HELLER: Instead of swinging, Eddie Yost just walked away
- HELLER: Not to worry, Nationals' rise is just starting
Latest Blog Entries
The president could pay the full price for ignoring Congress
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant, slams Obama's handling of Iraq
- 'Straight White Guy Festival' supposedly set for Ohio park
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- EDITORIAL: Obamacare in intensive care
- DEACE: How to go from civil rights icon to bigot in one quote
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq