LOWELL — The “Yaz” chants started slowly in one corner of the stadium. Then, after a few pitches, it began to grow.
By the time the seventh inning rolled around, it seemed nearly everyone in the LeLacheur Park crowd had erupted into the cheer that had once been a tradition at Fenway Park.
The name is iconic, but the player that stepped to the plate was young and fresh, at the start of his baseball career.
Andover’s Mike Yastrzemski made his return to the Merrimack Valley last night, for the first time a professional baseball player, as the starting center fielder and No. 2 hitter for the Aberdeen IronBirds, the single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, as they took on the Lowell Spinners at LeLacheur Park.
“It’s really exciting to be back,” said Yastrzemski. “I love this area. There is nothing like it. It’s been an amazing summer, but there is something really special about being close to home and playing in front of my family and friends.”
The former St. John’s Prep and Andover Legion star was 1 for 4 with an RBI single, a walk, a run scored and a sweet over-the-shoulder catch in front of a massive contingent of family and friends that had made the quick 11-mile drive from his home town. That helped the IronBirds beat Lowell 8-3.
“Today is a very, very proud moment,” said his mother, Anne-Marie Yastrzemski. “We have so many people here and we are trying to be as loud as possible. Nothing is better than to see your son happy. From the moment he could speak, he always said he was going to be a professional baseball player.”
It has been a special summer for Yastrzemski, his first after a professional baseball player.
A 14th round selection out of baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt this spring, Yastrzemski entered last night hitting an impressive .272 with three home runs and 18 RBIs for the summer.