Carl Yastrzemski: As far as I know, nobody has ever publicly accused Carl Yastrzemski of using steroids. Given critics’ willingness to accuse other players so swiftly, I really don’t know why not.
While Yaz’s 1967 season was only 22 home runs over his eventual career baseline, it was a whopping 28 home runs—a whopping 175%–over his 1966 season, a season that fit neatly into his career to that date. He had a baseline of just 17 home runs per 162 games to that point in his career. How could he have hit 44 home runs and won the Triple Crown in 1967?
The history we all learned is that Yaz chose to lift weights during the winter of 1966-67, and that his decision to work out was enough to cause a 175% increase in home runs. That could be true. If Yaz had been using steroids, one might expect swift increases in power hitting from other Red Sox, too, once they saw how well they worked for Yaz. But we did see that: Ken Harrelson came to Boston and went from 12 home runs in 1967 to 35 home runs in 1968, and Rico Petrocelli then went from 12 home runs in 1968 to 40 home runs in 1969. Both Harrelson and Petrocelli then endured swift, somewhat abnormal declines that ended their careers at ages 29 and 33. Yaz endured a similar precipitous drop from 1970 to 1972, a decline blamed upon injury, but a decline that left him somehow at almost exactly his 1961-66 level as a power hitter. He continued his career at, more or less, an arc appropriate to his pre-1967 career for another decade before retiring at age 43.
Did Yaz juice? I don’t know. I certainly have no proof. But I’ll say this: both his career arc and the career arcs of a couple of his teammates look as if steroids might have been involved, and steroids were certainly available to athletes in the 1960’s. Players in the Steroid Age have been accused of juicing on far less circumstantial evidence, and few players from before the Steroid Age ever boosted their power hitting in a single winter the way Yaz did.
I got to the Maris bit but I had to mop up some dripping brain empyema…and lost my place. Sorry.