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Carlton Fisk

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Carlton Ernest Fisk (born December 26, 1947 in Bellows Falls, Vermont) is a former Major League Baseball catcher who played for 24 years with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox.

Although born in Vermont, Fisk is quick to point out that he is actually from Charlestown, New Hampshire, just across the Connecticut River from Bellows Falls, Vermont. This being the case, Fisk graduated from Charlestown High School, playing baseball for the American Legion team in Bellows Falls. At the University of New Hampshire, Fisk started for the basketball team, while also playing baseball.

Professional career Edit

Baseball Hof
Carlton Fisk
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

Drafted by the Red Sox in 1967, Fisk played a few games for Boston in 1969 and 1971 but broke out for the Red Sox in his first full season in 1972. Fisk won the AL Gold Glove at Catcher and the AL Rookie of the Year awards that year. He played with the Red Sox until 1980, and with the White Sox from 1981-1993.

In 1972, he led the American League with 9 triples (tied with Joe Rudi of the Oakland Athletics). He is the last catcher to lead the league in this statistical category. (Tim McCarver of the Cardinals had led NL in triples in 1966).

In Fisk's long career, he caught 2,226 games, more than any other catcher in history (one more than Bob Boone) He was an 11-time All-Star and hit 376 career home runs.

1975 World SeriesEdit

But the defining moment of his illustrious career came in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series at Fenway Park. Fisk was facing Cincinnati Reds pitcher Pat Darcy and hit a pitch down the left field line that appeared to be heading to foul territory. The enduring image of Fisk jumping and waving the ball fair as he made his way to first base is inarguably one of baseball's greatest moments (it is referred to in the Gus Van Sant movie Good Will Hunting). The ball struck the foul pole, giving the Red Sox a 7-6 win and forcing a seventh and deciding game of the fall classic. NBC captured the home run via an extra camera. The next day, the Reds won the first of two back-to-back World Series championships. During this time, cameramen covering baseball were instructed to follow the flight of the ball. In a 1999 interview, NBC cameraman Lou Gerard admitted that the classic shot was not due to his own skills as a cameraman, but rather because he had been distracted by a nearby rat. Unable to follow the ball, he kept the camera on Fisk instead. [1] This play was perhaps the most important catalyst in getting camera operators to focus most of their attention on the players themselves. [2]

Chicago White SoxEdit

Fisk was signed by the White Sox as a free agent on March 18, 1981. At that time, his old number 27 was held on the White Sox by pitcher Ken Kravec. Fisk flip-flopped his old number and thus wore the unusual baseball number of 72 on his jersey. Although Kravec was traded just 10 days later, Fisk retained the number 72 throughout his career with the White Sox.

After joining the White Sox, he helped the team win its first American League Western Division Title in 1983. His .289 batting average, 26 home runs, and 86 RBI, as well as his leadership on the young team helped him to finish third in the MVP voting (behind Cal Ripken, Jr. and Eddie Murray). He was chosen Baseball Digest Major League Player of the Year in 1983 because of his overall play and contributuions to the White Sox Division title. After injuries reduced his playing time in 1984, he began a new training program which he would use for the rest of his career. In 1985, he came back to hit a career best 37 home runs and 107 RBI. Fisk often credited the training program to extending his career.

Records and honorsEdit

Fisk holds the record for most home runs after the age of 40 with 72. A single in the 1991 All-Star Game made him the oldest player to collect a hit in the history of All-Star competition. Fisk was also the final active position player who played in the 1960s.

Fisk was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 choosing the Boston Red Sox cap for his plaque, although he played for more seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

Fisk was known to fans by two endearing nicknames. While "Pudge" is a common name given to catchers (a nickname shared, for example, by catcher Ivan Rodriguez), he is also known as "The Commander" for his ability to take control on the field.

Fisk is also one of a small minority of baseball players who are embraced by the fans of two teams. The Chicago White Sox retired his uniform number 72 on September 14, 1997. The Boston Red Sox retired his uniform number 27 on September 4, 2000. He is one of eight people to have their uniform number retired by at least two teams.

In 1999, he was selected as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Notable feudsEdit

Aside from his historic home runs and his strong work ethic, Fisk was universally revered for his love and respect of the game itself. In one memorable incident, pro-football and pro-baseball player Deion Sanders hit a pop fly, and refused to run to first base, suspecting that the ball would be easily caught. Fisk yelled at Sanders to run the ball out and told Sanders during his next at-bat, "If you don't play it [the game] right, I'm going to kick your ass right here in Yankee Stadium."

Fisk is also known for his longstanding feud with New York Yankee counterpart Thurman Munson. One particular incident that typified their feud, and the Yankee-Red Sox Rivelry in general, occurred on August 1, 1973 at Fenway Park. With the score tied at 2-2 in the top of the 9th, Munson attempted to score on Gene Michael's missed bunt attempt. Munson barreled into Fisk, triggering a 10-minute bench-clearing brawl in which both catchers were ejected. The feud ended tragically in 1979, when Munson was killed in a plane crash.

DedicationsEdit

The Fisk PoleEdit

On June 13, 2005, the Red Sox honored Fisk and the 12th-inning home run that won Game 6 of the 1975 World Series by naming the left field foul pole where it landed the "Fisk Pole". In a pregame ceremony from the Green Monster, Fisk was cheered by the Fenway Park crowd while the shot was replayed to the strains of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. The Red Sox scheduled the ceremony to coincide with an interleague series against the Cincinnati Reds, who made their first trip back to Fenway Park since the '75 Series. Thirty years later, the video of Fisk trying to wave the ball fair remains one of the game's enduring images. Game 6 is often considered one of the best games ever played in Major League history. Fenway's right field foul pole, which is just 302 feet from the plate, is named Pesky's Pole, for light-hitting former Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky. Mel Parnell named the pole after Pesky in 1948 when he won a game with a home run just inside the right field pole. On the field, Fisk threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his former batterymate Luis Tiant.

RingsEdit

After the June 13 ceremony in Boston, Fisk received an honorary World Series ring from the Red Sox commemorating their 2004 World Series victory. On Saturday, August 12, 2006, the Chicago White Sox presented Fisk with another ring, this one in honor of the White Sox' 2005 championship.

The StatueEdit

The Chicago White Sox unveiled a life-sized bronze statue of Carlton Fisk on August 7, 2005. The statue is located inside U.S. Cellular Field on the main concourse in left field. It joined similar statues depicting Charles Comiskey and Minnie Minoso.


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