Red Sox Pennants

Feb. 15, 1974

Carl Yaztrzemski wasn’t exactly ancient in 1974; he began the season at age 34. In baseball terms, that put him on the welcome mat of elderly, but he had yet to knock on the door.

Still, Yaz had logged 13 big-league seasons, and even he had a notion that he should back off from roaming in front of The Wall on a regular basis.

So he told first-year manager Darrell Johnson that using him as a first baseman might be a good idea.

As spring training opened, that presented a bit of a problem. Cecil Cooper, age 24, looked like he might be Boston’s first baseman of the future. (Danny Cater was a first baseman, too, but by this time he was rarely thought of as anything but the mediocre return the Red Sox received from the Yankees for Sparky Lyle.)

It seemed probable that Johnson might be relieved of figuring out who’s on first with Cooper on the trade market. A spotty 1973 season, including 30 games with Boston in which he batted .238, dampened his trade value.

Ultimately, Johnson split first-base duties between the veteran and the kid. Yastrzemski played 84 games at first base, 63 in left field and four as the designated hitter. Cooper played 71 games at first and served as the DH 41 times.