Known affectionately as “Pudge,” Carlton Fisk was a force behind the plate for the Red Sox during most of the 1970s as one of the game’s premier catchers and is best remembered in Boston and by baseball fans for the dramatics he provided one cool October night in 1975. After two quick cups of coffee in 1969 and 1971, Fisk established himself as the starting catcher for Boston in 1972 with a memorable year behind the plate, batting .293 with 22 home runs and 61 RBI. His efforts gained him an All-Star nod, a fourth-place finish in the American League MVP vote, Rookie of the Year honors (the first player to be elected unanimously), and his only Gold Glove.
Three years later, after missing the first half of the 1975 season due to injury, he returned to bat .331 in 79 games to help propel Boston to the World Series for the first time in eight years. Fisk then provided perhaps the most memorable moment in World Series, if not baseball, history. With the score tied at six in the bottom of the 12th inning of Game Six, Fisk came to the plate and launched the second offering from Cincinnati Reds pitcher Pat Darcy off the left-field foul pole high above Fenway Park‘s left field wall to send the series to a deciding Game Seven, though Cincinnati would prevail as champions that season.
Perhaps Fisk’s best season at the plate came two years later in 1977, when he hit .315, hit 26 home runs, and drove in 102 runs while crossing the plate 106 times. After the 1980 season, Fisk left as a free agent for the Chicago White Sox and spent the next 13 seasons playing in Chicago; he would end his career having caught the most games as a catcher in major league baseball history.
Fisk was eventually elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his second year on the ballot in 2000 and, later than same year, the Red Sox honored their former catcher by retiring his former number 27, joining just six other players in team history to receive that honor.