Carl Yastrzemski’s kielbasa

September 17, 2010

Back in June, I told the story of how my childhood wish for an autograph from my hero, Carl Yastrzemski, was finally fulfilled by way of a circuitous combination of some long ago promotional endorsement of encased meats and the kindness of a Boston Globe reader, Ann Beaudoin, who’d seen a story in that paper about me and my gods that mentioned my unrequited desire for the Hall of Famer’s scribbled name. Yesterday I got another piece of mail from Ann with a newspaper flier inside and a message relating that she had seen the photo on the cover of the flier and decided to pass it along.

Sometimes I wonder about things. I wonder a lot, obviously, about the past. I suppose all this wondering is a way of asking if the past and present can ever meet. I don’t know if they can. But now, at least, I know that there is a place “where the past and present meat” and that they do so in the very spot where Yaz once stood.

I also wonder about the future. I wonder what happens when we die. Will there really be a question and answer session when the final out is recorded? This is a common story we like to tell ourselves anyway. Maybe it’s true.

And what did you do with your one brief life? I’ll be asked.

I picture a guy at a desk, holding a clipboard. (In my version of the afterlife, celestial intake workers have not yet been upgraded to computers.)

I’m not really sure, I’ll reply.

Come on, give me something, the intake worker will prod me. It’s on my list, and we can’t leave it blank. We had a whole meeting about it.

Well, I guess there’s this, I’ll say. I don’t know if it says anything about what I chose to focus on in my life, but there was one time when someone I’d never met saw Carl Yastrzemski holding kielbasa and thought of me.

Whether or not this tidbit gets me processed to some higher plain or to a more purgatorial or even punitive realm or, worst of all, to nonexistence altogether, remains to be seen (or not seen), but in this world it made the past and the present and the future meat and I couldn’t help but smile.


A “book tour” note:

I’ll be part of a reading at a bar in Chicago this Sunday.

Orange Alert Reading Series
The Whistler
2421 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL
also reading: Adam Golaski (“Color Plates”), Davis Schneiderman (“Drain”), Ben Tanzer (“Lucky Man”)
Free and open to the public
(Metromix listing of event here.)

Hope to see you there. If you can’t make it and are suspicious that my ability to read is a hoax, I’ll leave you today with some grainy, Zapruder-ambiguous proof in the form of a bit of digital-camera video taken by my Uncle Bob at a reading I did this summer at the general store where, long ago, I first made the acquaintance of most of the gods who live in a shoebox on top of the file cabinet next to my desk. 


  1. Josh: Always enjoy reading your posts. I hope you never get the feeling that you are wasting your best stuff on shmucks like me. At any rate, Yaz’s young face reminds me of the one which peers out between my good slacks each day (minus the sausage). My wife is not much into sports decor and I am forced to hide an autographed photo of Yaz and a poster of Ted Williams pushing a bottle of Moxie behind the clothes in my closet. They help get me going each morning.

  2. This is probably projection, but Yaz always seemed less blessed by talent than Williams. Williams never won a ring either, obviously, but Yaz’ struggles seemed more deep and profound. Like none of it was ever easy for him, as Roger Angell wrote once. That isn’t fair- I’m sure Williams worked his butt off. But that’s how it seems.

  3. spud:you seem to have it exactly right. As I look at the likenesses in my closet, Yaz seems to be wondering whether he might have to go back to the potato farm in the future, while a smiling Ted seems to be brim full of moxie himself. And, Josh, the clip you included may have inadvertantly symbolized the “gulf” which exists before we reach that point where the past and the future meat.

  4. “Yaz’s young face reminds me of the one which peers out between my good slacks each day (minus the sausage)”

    This line had me completely baffled for quite a while. Now I just can’t stop laughing. Next time I’m pissed off at somebody, I’m gonna say, “Your face reminds me of the one that peers out from between my slacks! Minus the sausage!”

  5. Nice article in today’s Globe about Yaz:


  6. Thanks for passing that along.

  7. That pic of Yaz brings distant memories to me. In the early 80’s Yaz worked in the off-season(he was still playing then) for Hillshire Farms, Kahns Meat as a goodwill ambassador. I was working for a major food distributor warehouse at the time in the computer room. Yaz visited our company and was given the grand tour. I noticed some people looking at us through the window at us in computer room. One of them was Carl Yastrzemski. We waved and nobody waved back. A few minutes later I walked into the bosses office looking to ask the boss a question. Yaz was alone in the office at the meeting table. I was shocked, he was sitting alone and did not expect to see him there alone. I said “Hi Yaz, excuse me, I was looking for the boss”, and left. 5 minutes later, Corky(a gay guy) asked him to leave the office because they had a meeting scheduled. He did not know who Carl Yastrzemski was. Fairway Beef(in the picture) was a major customer

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