"He was the best catcher I ever had."
-- Luis Tiant

Carlton Ernest Fisk was born on December 26, 1947 in Bellows Falls, VT. He spent his childhood in Charlestown, New Hampshire, where he recieved his nickname "Pudge." Carlton would go on to attend the University of New Hampshire, but he wouldn't last long in college, for the Boston Red Sox drafted him early in his collegiate career.

The hometown New England boy, who grew up dreaming of being the Celtics' power forward, made his debut on September 18, 1969. However, Pudge would not consistently play at the position that he made famous until 1972. Something clicked with Fisk in 1972, as he hit the ball consistently for the Bosox. He managed to tie the league leader for triples, the first time that was done by a catcher. Carlton also hit 22 homers with a .293 batting average. This, combined with the Golden Glove award, was good enough for him to be unanimously voted the American League's rookie of the year in 1972. The next player to win unanimously would be the Oakland A's Mark McGwire.

Things went well for Fisk up until June 28, 1974. For on that day, during a game against the Cleveland Indians, outfielder Leron Lee crashed into Fisk during a play at the plate. During the collision, Fisk's left knee would be injured, and he would miss the rest of the season. Not only that, but during spring training in the followig season, Fisk would break his arm! He would not return until June 25, 1975, after almost a full year of being injured.

Fisk would be healthy for the post season, and that's what counts. Lead by Pudge, Dewie, Yaz and El Tiante, The Red Sox would take on Cincinnatti's Big Red Machine in the World Series. Luis Tiant shut out the Reds in game one, giving the Sox the early series lead. The next night, Sox pitcher Bill Lee held the Reds to one run in 8 innings of work, but the Reds scored twice in the 9th, tying the series. The Reds would take game three in a game of home run derby, as both teams combined for a total of 6 in the game. El Tiante followed his stellar performance in game 1 with another complete game in game 4, as the Sox won 5-4. Cincy would win the following game by a sound 6-2. The teams traveled back to Boston for game 6.

And what a game Game 6 was. Tiant had four days of rest due to the travelling and got the start against the Reds' Gary Nolan. After Fred Lynn hit a three run shot to start the game off, the Reds would retaliate with 3 in the fifth, 2 in the seventh and another run in the eigth, which gave them a 6-3 lead. In the bottom of the 8th, Bernie Carbo was called to pinch hit, and like he did earlier in the series, Carbo knocked the ball into the centerfield bleachers, tying the game! In the bottom of the 9th, the Red Sox stepped into a time machine and turned into the Red Sox of the future and couldn't knock in a game winning run in the bottom of the 9th with no outs and the bases loaded.

So the game goes into extra innings. In the eleventh, the Reds had a man on first and one out when Joe Morgan hit the ball soundly towards right field. The hit would have been a home run if it weren't for Dwight Evans who ended up making a spectacular catch and doubling the runner on first base!

Now in the bottom of the 12th inning, Carlton Fisk would lead off at half past 12 am. He hit the second pitch thrown at him high, deep and down the left field line. While the ball was in the air, Fisk would hop down the first base line sideways, his eyes on the ball the entire time waving it fair, trying to pull it with invisible strings from his arms. The ball dinged the foul pole, for perhaps the most memorable homerun in Red Sox history! This is also one of the most recognizable home runs in MLB history, and can even be seen on the Baseball's Greatest Moments commercial by Visa. The Red Sox management gave that foul pole a name on June 13, 2005 -- the Fisk Pole (insert double entendres here).

The really sad part about it all, the Sox would go on to lose the next game 4-3. However, Fisk himself says "The Red Sox won that series, 3 games to 4."

Six years later, Fisk would be upset with management, and when they failed to send him a new contract on time, he signed up for free agency. He ended up signing with the Chicago White Sox on March 9, 1981, 5 days after my birthday. Three years later on May 16, 1984, Fisk would hit for the cycle.

On August 17, 1990, Fisk, once considered an offensive liability, hit his 328th home run as a catcher, breaking Johnny Bench's major league record for home runs hit by a catcher. On June 24, 1993, Carlton Fisk played his 2,226 and final game in the majors, surpassing Bob Boone's record of 2,225 for most games caught. Fisk retired with 3,999 total bases, the most ever for a catcher. The White Sox's management would be idiots and not allow Fisk into the locker room during their playoff run that year.

In 1997, the Chisox retired Fisk's number 72 in Comiskey Park. Fisk would request that Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Ron Schueler not be present for the ceremony. Also in that year, Pudge was named to the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

In 2000, Carlton Fisk was inducted into the real Hall of Fame, along with Tony Perez, Sparky Anderson, Turkey Stearnes, Bid McPhee and announcer Marty Brennaman. His number, 27, was retired on Labor day of that year. He's the most recent to join retired numbers at Fenway Park. During his 24 years of playing baseball, Fisk hit 351 homers as a catcher, the most ever for that position.

The really cool thing about Pudge, is that he's a hometown boy. He grew up in Vermont and New Hampshire, and he hates the Yankees! On August 1, 1973, Gene Michael missed a bunt, causing Yankee catcher Thurman Munson to crash into Fisk. Both came up swinging. Later, when Fisk was tossing out the ceremonial first pitch of Game 4 of the 1999 American League Championship Series, Fisk, as descretely as one can with 40,000 people staring at you, flipped the Yankee dugout the bird. Go Pudge!

Statistics:

Position: Catcher
Numbers: 27 and 72
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 220 lb
             AVG    G   AB   R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB 
1969 Boston .000    2    5    0    0   0  0   0    0   0   2   0  
1971 Boston .313   14   48    7   15   2  1   2    6   1  10   0  
1972 Boston .293  131  457   74  134  28  9  22   61  52  83   5  
1973 Boston .246  135  508   65  125  21  0  26   71  37  99   7  
1974 Boston .299   52  187   36   56  12  1  11   26  24  23   5  
1975 Boston .331   79  263   47   87  14  4  10   52  27  32   4  
1976 Boston .255  134  487   76  124  17  5  17   58  56  71  12  
1977 Boston .315  152  536  106  169  26  3  26  102  75  85   7  
1978 Boston .284  157  571   94  162  39  5  20   88  71  83   7  
1979 Boston .272   91  320   49   87  23  2  10   42  10  38   3  
1980 Boston .289  131  478   73  138  25  3  18   62  36  62  11  
1981 Chisox .263   96  338   44   89  12  0   7   45  38  37   3  
1982 Chisox .267  135  476   66  127  17  3  14   65  46  60  17  
1983 Chisox .289  138  488   85  141  26  4  26   86  46  88   9  
1984 Chisox .231  102  359   54   83  20  1  21   43  26  60   6  
1985 Chisox .238  153  543   85  129  23  1  37  107  52  81  17  
1986 Chisox .221  125  457   42  101  11  0  14   63  22  92   2  
1987 Chisox .256  135  454   68  116  22  1  23   71  39  72   1  
1988 Chisox .277   76  253   37   70   8  1  19   50  37  40   0  
1989 Chisox .293  103  375   47  110  25  2  13   68  36  60   1  
1990 Chisox .285  137  452   65  129  21  0  18   65  61  73   7  
1991 Chisox .241  134  460   42  111  25  0  18   74  32  86   1  
1992 Chisox .229   62  188   12   43   4  1   3   21  23  38   3  
1993 Chisox .189   25   53    2   10   0  0   1    4   2  11   0  

        AVG    G    AB     R     H    2B  3B   HR   RBI   BB   SO    SB 
Career .269  2499  8756  1276  2356  421  47  376  1330  849  1386  128  

Hall of Fame index
Rollie Fingers | Elmer Flick

sources:
www.baseballhalloffame.org/hofers_and_honorees/hofer_bios/fisk_carlton.htm
www.redsoxdiehard.com/players/fisk.html
www.baseball-reference.com/f/fiskca01.shtml
sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/baseball/mlb/06/13/bc.bba.fisk.sfoulpole.ap/index.html

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