Eddie Yost, baseball’s ‘Walking Man,’ dies
There’s a great deal of talk about the “home-field advantage” in sports, but much less so about the home-field disadvantage.
Eddie Yost, the former Major League third basemen who died Tuesday at age 86, was well acquainted with the latter.
While playing for the Washington Senators between 1944 and 1953, Yost hit 55 home runs; however, just three of those round-trippers came at his home park, Griffith Stadium.
That’s because Griffith was anything but hitter-friendly. The dimensions for the Senators’ park included a left field line that was 424 feet from home plate, and nearly as far to center.
In addition, while the right field line was much closer at 326 feet, it featured a 30-foot fence which served to block the view from surrounding buildings.
Griffith Stadium was reconfigured for the 1954 season, with the left field fence being brought in to 388 feet and right field being changed to 320, and Yost’s totals improved somewhat.
Playing in hitter-friendly Tiger Stadium in 1959, his home run production climbed to a career-high 21 and he led the American League with 115 runs scored, 135 walks and a .435 on-base percentage. The following year he again led the league in base on balls and on-base percentage.
Yost would end his career with 139 home runs, but was far better known for drawing bases on balls.
Nicknamed the “Walking Man,” Yost led the American League in walks six times during his 18-year big-league career and still ranks 11th with 1,614, 50 years after he retired, according to NBC Sports.
Yost, who broke into the Majors as a 17-year-old in August 1944, is also noted as the first player to ever appear in a game for the expansion Los Angeles Angels. He led off in the team’s first game on April 11, 1961.
He would go on to spend another 22 years in coaching after he retired in mid-1962.
(Above: starting lineup, 1953 Washington Senators, from left: Eddie Yost, 3b; Jim Busby, of; Mickey Vernon, 1b; Jackie Jensen, of; Pete Runnels, ss; Ken Wood, of; Wayne Terwilliger, 2b; Mickey Grasso, c; Bob Porterfield, p)