The exclamation mark of Carlton Fisk’s 24-year major-league baseball career was his memorable wave-the-ball-fair, 12th-inning homer in 1975 (this is its 40th anniversary) that sent the World Series to a seventh game. Thirty years later the Boston Red Sox named the Fenway Park left field foul pole for him, and well after his 1993 retirement the Red Sox and Chicago White Sox both awarded him honorary World Series championship rings even though he missed out in playing for their respective 2004 and 2005 champions. His childhood nickname, “Pudge,” acquired because of his chubbiness, belied the hard-working, fiery leader he became while splitting his career almost evenly between Boston and Chicago. This comprehensive biography takes a look at his full body of work playing the most physically demanding position in the game and in the process earning selection as both a unanimous Rookie of the Year in 1972 and a Hall of Famer in 2000.
Here’s an excerpt from Pudge:
“There will always be the Game Six Home Run; when Carlton Ernest Fisk transcended the sport. It remains one of the most famous and enduring images in American sports history. Strictly in a baseball sense, it was not quite as monumental as Bobby Thomson’s home run, or Bill Mazeroski’s, but it was better than any other. Joe Carter and Kirk Gibson had their World Series moments, but neither was in an elimination game – if they had struck out, their teams would have had another chance the next day. Also, the timing was special. Thomson and Mazeroski came before television, and viewers, had really matured; Carter and Gibson after. With Fisk’s home run and the camera shot, there was an emotion that had never been seen before.
“Even after 40 years, every interviewer and every glad-handing fan always, eventually, gets around to the Game Six Home Run. Did he get tired of hearing about it from strangers? How many times can you say thank you? How many times can you act impressed at someone’s memory, enjoy the moment, repeat the stock answers to the same question? ‘People think it’s the only hit I got in my whole life,’ he told a reporter in 2004. True, it could be irritating. But also that was like saying people think the only thing Leonardo da Vinci painted was the Mona Lisa – some things are so extraordinarily special that all other deeds in a career pale.”