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Carlton Fisk - Made Strong Red Sox Debut

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Yet it was not basketball but baseball that beckoned Fisk in January 1967, when the Boston Red Sox, New England's beloved team, chose to draft him. Spending his first year in basic training in Fort Dix, New Jersey, Fisk did not receive his uniform until 1968. However, a second drafting, this time by the U.S. Army, which called Fisk to prepare for action in the Vietnam War, delayed his career another three years. During his time with a reserve unit in Chester, Vermont, Fisk was never called to combat. He later was grateful to the reserves for instilling in him the values of a team player. "I don't know if [the army] changed my attitude, my discipline, but it might have helped a little bit on the coachability end of it," Fisk told Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. "Because of my talents, I was like a loose cannon on deck. I had all the firepower but no direction."

Making his first full-season debut in 1972, Fisk was off to a strong start, ending the season with 22 home runs and batting .293. He won both a Gold Glove and a Rookie of the Year award. Unfortunately, however, Fisk was prone to injuries. During spring training in 1974, he sustained a groin injury. And later that season, colliding with a runner at the plate, he faced a more serious, potentially career-ending knee injury. The surgeon who reconstructed his torn knee ligaments told Fisk that he might never be able play baseball again. Yet after nine weeks in a cast, through hard work and perseverance, Fisk recovered. To regain his strength, he lifted weights and ran in the mornings with the pastor from his family's New Hampshire church.

Rejoining the Red Sox in June of 1975, after one year on the sidelines, Fisk made a remarkable comeback. After helping his team take the American League pennant, Fisk performed phenomenally in the World Series games against the Cincinnati Reds. The powerful slugger hit a now-legendary 12th inning home run that allowed the Red Sox to clinch Game Six of the World Series, with a final score of 7-6. "The celebration of that moment has made me realize how popular baseball is and how it affects people's lives," Fisk told Larry White-side of the Boston Globe. "It's still the greatest moment in my career." (The team lost Game Seven, however, losing the title to the Reds.)

Fisk had another good year in 1977, ending the season with a .315 average and 26 home runs. Vying with the New York Yankees' Thurman Munson for recognition as the American League's best catcher, Fisk allowed only four passed balls that season. Yet that year and the following, the Yankees kept Boston from a pennant title. Some fans attributed the Red Sox's 1978 loss to a rib injury sustained by Fisk. The same injury left Fisk on the sidelines for several games during the 1979 season.


1947 Born on December 26, 1947, in Bellows Falls, VT
1962-65 Dominates sports at Charlestown High School, in Charlestown, NH
1967 Drafted by Boston Red Sox
1968-71 Serves in army reserves in Chester, VT
1972 Debuts with Red Sox
1975 Hits famed 12th inning home run, letting Red Sox win Game Six of the World Series
1981 Signs five-year, $3 million contract with Chicago White Sox
1994 Retires after 24-year playing career

Awards and Accomplishments

1972 Won Golden Glove Award
1972 Named American League Rookie of the Year
1972-74, Named to the All-Star team
1985, 1991
2000 Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Fisk Extends the Series to Seven Games

Tuesday, October 21, 1975, Fenway Park

This World Series had it all—good pitching, terrific fielding plays, explosive offense and plenty of drama. Veteran writers proclaimed it one of the more exciting Series in memory. After five games Cincinnati's Big Red Machine held the edge over the Boston Red Sox three games to two, and their manager, Sparky Anderson, had every intention of ending the Fall Classic this night….

The Red Sox needed this game to stay alive, and in the opening frame they drew first blood. After two outs Carl Yastrzemski and Carlton Fisk singled. Rookie Fred Lynn then smashed a towering drive into right-center field that cleared the Boston bullpen and landed ten rows deep in the bleachers….

In the Cincinnati seventh, with two on and two out, George Foster doubled home a pair, giving the Reds their first lead at 5-3. Crowd noise was non-existent, especially after Cesar Geronimo led off the visitor's eighth with a home run. The round-tripper spelled the end for Tiant, who left to a standing ovation, but trailing 6-3….

Pat Darcy, who had taken the mound for Cincinnati in the 10th, had retired six straight Red Sox. But leading off the home 12th was Fisk. On a 1-0 pitch the catcher lofted a towering drive deep to left as more than 35,000 pairs of eyes strained to see if it would stay fair. Amid a deafening roar Fisk waved the ball fair as it slammed high off the foul pole and gave Boston one of the most dramatic victories in World Series history.

Source: Dittmar, Joseph J. The 100 Greatest Baseball Games. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2000.

Carlton Fisk - Chronology [next]

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