Mike Yastrzemski’s 11-letter last name — the one that ties him to his Hall of Fame grandfather, Carl — had a lot to do with his arrival at Fenway Park this week in a San Francisco Giants uniform.
There’s another side to the Mike Yastrzemski story that gets as much credit for his budding career as a big league ballplayer.
That’s the Wesson side — his grandmother, Mimi Wesson; his mom, Anne Marie Yastrzemski; and her five aunts, Paula Lamagna, Elaine DaCosta, Dana Lanio, Mary Ellen McIver and Kathy O’Connor — as well as their Andover friends.
They make up a support network that claims just as much credit for Mike Yastrzemski’s success as the long name across his back.
Before the Giants came to Boston last week for a three-game series against the Red Sox — before the emotional first pitch from Yaz to his grandson at the start of last Wednesday’s game — Mike’s mom had sent her family a link to buy tickets.
They might have broken some kind of record: In all, about 250 family and friends with ties to Mike Yastrzemski and Andover showed up at Wednesday’s game (which the Giants won, 11-3).
“I am so lucky,” said Mike, whose team left Boston after last Thursday’s game, having won two of three in the series.
“I was an only child. I was very lucky to have so many people – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – to hang with and looking out for me in Andover,” he said. Mike, who was 14 when his father died, grew up in Andover and went to St. John’s Prep in Danvers.
His mom is from Andover, and her family has always been a big part of his life.
“They weren’t only there for me as I was growing up but also during some tough times in the minors,” he said. “I honestly don’t know where I’d be right now without their support.”
Mike’s maternal grandmother, Mimi, is among the special people in his life. Before every game she attends in person, they usually meet so she can give him a blessing.
“He came to me on the field before the game (Tuesday night) and said, ‘Mimi, are going to bless me?’” she said. "I said, 'You bet!’ He is such a nice young man. He’s always been that way.”
When Mike flew into town Monday, he went directly to his grandmother’s house in Andover. Nearly 20 people were waiting on him, to celebrate his first-ever games at Fenway Park.
They included Mike’s college sweetheart and wife of 10 months, Paige Cahill, as well as her parents and brother, all from Nashville, Tennessee.
“Family is very important to me,” Mike said. “My mom instilled that.”
Anne Marie says she’s probably been to Fenway more than a hundred times in her life. Last week, obviously, was different.
In fact, on Tuesday and Wednesday, she stayed in a hotel in Boston, soaking it all in.
“I walked up to the park on Tuesday, just like I have about a hundred or more other times,” she said. “I got chills.
“It was weird,” she said. “We knew this week was coming. But it hit me that this was different. Mike was really playing at Fenway Park.”
Anne Marie has followed every moment of Mike’s roller coaster ride through the minor leagues — he played 703 games, most with the Orioles organization, before getting his shot this year with the Giants.
Her sisters and their families have also followed every step on the journey — often in person.
“Whenever we could go to games, someone in our family would try to make it,” said his aunt Dana Lanio. "We prefer not to be in the limelight, but we love to follow and support Mike. The best part for us is he is a genuine kid and recognizes the people in the background supporting him.”
Mike, who grew up going to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox, has talked about pausing to let the special moments of last week sink in — playing in left field in front of the Green Monster, hitting a home run to center in his Boston debut, taking a ceremonial first pitch from his granddad, Yaz.
Sharing those memories his family, he said, is something he will never forget.
“My family has always been there for me,” he said. “The fact that I was able to come back to Fenway Park, and hit the home run, and see their excitement — that will always be special to me.”