The Best Outfielder I Ever Saw With My Own Eyes? Number 24.
Number 24. Just the mention of those two digits sends shivers of memories not imagined down my spine. Dwight Evans. Dewey, or as it sounded when 35,000 chanted it, "Dew-ey Dew-ey Dew-ey." Right field at Fenway, hell, right field if it was on Mars, was owned by him. But first I must give my honorable mention player. none other that Carl Yastrezemski. Yaz. Number 8 at the plate. Just as Dewey owned right field, Yaz owned the wall and the small patch of grass in front of it known as left field. He could take a carrom off the wall and before the runner lifted his head rounding first base was ready to gun him out by 8 steps. Wall ball line singles were the norm, for if the ball had any mustard on it and the batter decided to take an elongated stroll past the first base bag, he was out, dead cold, dead meat, frozen fish. Then, eyes to the ground, he would have to take that miles long walk across the diamond to the visiter's dugout. Yaz played that wall like Springsteen plays the guitar, like Billy Joel plays the piano. Like God created us in his image. There was no other.
Now to Dewey. There never was, nor ever will be, at least in my lifetime, a person who could track a ball in any direction, at any speed, wind be damned. It was as if he had his own built in radar system. A fly ball near the Pesky Pole? If the fans gave him room and it was catchable, he would catch it. A ball in the gap? He would cut it off and unleash powerful throws from the cannon known as his arm, possibly the best throwing outfielder ever known in this grand old game. The ball would travel with cannonlike speed and laserlike accuracy to its target. Woe to the hitter who tried to stretch a single into a double. There WAS no stretching when Dewey was on patrol. And he was and is a great Dad to a medically challenged child. An inspration to us all and something he would never talk about. With classic good looks that even my Mom fell in love with, he still cuts a dashing figure. Put that package into a home white Red Sox uniform, and miracles would occur. And that is why he was the best ballplayer to play the outfield that I have or ever will see. Thanks Dewey. We love you. We always did. We always will.