Carlton Fisk is best known for the picture you see here with his waving homer run in the 1975 Wolrd series vs the Reds.At the time of his retirement in 1993, he held the record for most home runs all-time by a catcher with 351 (since passed by Mike Piazza). Fisk held the record for most games played at the position of catcher (2,226) until June 17, 2009 when he was surpassed by another “Pudge”, Iván Rodríguez. Fisk still holds the American League record for most years served behind the plate (24). Fisk was voted to the All-Star team 11 times and won three Silver Slugger Awards which is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position.
Fisk was known as a fierce competitor, a superb handler of pitchers, and a natural on-field leader. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Fisk was known for his longstanding feud with New York Yankees counterpart Thurman Munson. One particular incident that typified their feud, and the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry in general, occurred on August 1, 1973 at Fenway Park. With the score tied at 2-2 in the top of the 9th, Munson, attempting to score on Gene Michael’s missed bunt attempt, barreled into Fisk, triggering a 10-minute bench-clearing brawl in which both catchers were ejected. As John Curtis let his first pitch go, Munson broke for the plate. Michael tried to bunt, and missed. With Munson coming, the scrawny Yankee shortstop tried to step in Fisk’s way, but Carlton elbowed him out of the way and braced for Munson, who crashed into him as hard as he could. Fisk held onto the ball, but Munson tried to lie on top of him to allow Felipe Alou to keep rounding the bases.
Fisk kicked Munson off him and into the air, and swiped at him with his fist. Michael grabbed Fisk, and as Curtis grabbed Munson—his former Cape Cod League roommate—Fisk threw Michael down with his left arm and fell to the ground. “Fisk had his left arm right across Stick’s throat and wouldn’t let up,” said Ralph Houk, the Yankees manager at the time. “Michael couldn’t breathe. I had to crawl underneath the pile to try to pry Fisk’s arm off his throat to keep him from killing Stick. All the while he had Michael pinned down, he was punching Munson underneath the pile. I had no idea Fisk was that strong, but he was scary.”
In another incident typifying the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, Fisk was also involved in an altercation with Lou Piniella during a May 20, 1976 game at Yankee Stadium. In the sixth inning of this game, Piniella barreled into Fisk trying to score on an Otto Velez single. Fisk and Piniella shoved each other at home plate, triggering another bench-clearing brawl. After the fight apparently died down and order appeared to be restored, Fisk’s pitcher, Bill Lee, and Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles began exchanging words and punches, igniting the brawl anew. Lee suffered a separated left shoulder in the altercation and missed much of the season.
In another incident, pro-football and pro-baseball player Deion Sanders, then with the Yankees, hit a pop fly, and declined 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, “There is a right way and a wrong way to play this game. You’re playing it the wrong way. And the rest of us don’t like it. Someday, you’re going to get this game shoved right down your throat.”
Runs batted in
Boston Red Sox (1969, 1971–1980)
Chicago White Sox (1981–1993)
Career highlights and awards
11× All-Star (1972–1974, 1976–1978, 1980–1982, 1985, 1991)
AL Rookie of the Year (1972)
Gold Glove Award (1972)
3× Silver Slugger Award (1981, 1985, 1988)
Boston Red Sox #27 retired
Chicago White Sox #72 retired
1972 American League Rookie of the Year. The first player to have received the award with a unanimous vote.
1972 Gold Glove winner.
3x Silver Slugger award winner: 1981, 1985, 1988.
Led all American League catchers in fielding percentage in 1989.
Oldest catcher in Major League history to hit 20 home runs in 1987.
Oldest player to record a hit in an All-Star game in 1991.
Holds the record for most home runs hit after the age of 40 (72).
Holds the record for most years played as a catcher with 24 (1969, 1971–1993).
At the time of his retirement in 1993, he held the records for most home runs all-time by a catcher with 351 (since passed by Mike Piazza) and most games played at the position of catcher with 2,226 (surpassed by Iván Rodríguez on June 17, 2009).
Fisk is one of only seven players in history who have caught more than 150 games in a season multiple times (Jim Sundberg, Randy Hundley, Ted Simmons, Frankie Hayes and Gary Carter).
Fisk is one of only sixteen catchers elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Among those, Fisk has the most hits (2,356) and runs scored (1,276).
Fisk holds the record for the longest game by a catcher. On May 9, 1984 he caught all 25 innings of the White Sox’s 7-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Fisk threw out four runners attempting to steal during the game. The former record of 24 innings was shared by 5 players: Mike Powers (9-1-1906), Buddy Rosar and Bob Swift (both on 7-21-1945), Hal King and Jerry Grote (both on 4-15-1968).
Fisk finished in the top ten in American League Most Valuable Player voting four times (1972, 1977–78, and 1983).
Fisk’s .481 slugging percentage while with the Red Sox is the tenth best in that club’s long history.
Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday salutes one of baseball’s all time durable catchers…Carlton Fisk.
4 thoughts on “Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday…Carlton Fisk”
Unfortunately, I remember the incidents you described and all I can do is cringe. And as a Yankee fan. The mere mention of his name is repulsive to me.
Clearly one cannot deny the many talents of Fisk but I for one was never a fan of his…
That’s how I feel about Chipper Jones …the bane of Mets fans
I hear that!! Difference is I don’t recall Chpper getting physical with the Mets players or ‘strut’ around with an attitude like Fisk. He just had the Mets’ number offensively. Fisk was almost Bill Laimbeer-like…a goon…a troublemaker. Chipper exuded class.
Class that still kicked our …lol