By Art Martone
BOSTON -- For 23 years, he was a Fenway fixture on Opening Day.
And then, when he retired in 1984, Carl Yastrzemski disappeared.
"When I retired, I kinda said, 'That was it,' " said the 71-year-old Hall of Famer. "I stayed away . . . It was difficult for a couple of years, but after that it got easier.
He made a rare appearance at the renovated old ballyard Friday, throwing out the first pitch prior to the Red Sox' Opening Day game against the Yankees. And he thinks he knows why he got the call to open the season.
"I'm undefeated," joked Yastrzemski, who threw out the first pitch before Sox victories in both the 2004 and 2007 World Series. "Terry Francona already told me he wants me to come back tomorrow if they win."
There's no chance of that; Yaz flew up from Florida Friday morning and will fly back down Friday night. But he doesn't believe they need him as a good-luck charm.
"A slump is a team thing," he said. "It's the way it happens in baseball, and always has. For five, six games, no one hits. And then, boom.
"The reason for it? Who knows?"
But you'll forgive the Fenway Faithful -- who watched their team score more runs in the first two innings than it had in the last four games combined -- if they credit their long-beloved, but seldom-seen, star.
Art Martone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.