He was born in Bellows Falls Vermont, raised in Charlestown New Hampshire, went to UNH and as a kid dreamed of playing for the Boston Celtics. A New Englander through and through, the Boston Red Sox, in 1967, made him their number one draft pick (4th overall) and in 1969 he made his major league debut. Not quite yet ready, it would be the September call up of 1971 before he returned to Fenway Park but when the team broke north for the 1972 season, they did so with Carlton Ernest “Pudge” Fisk in tow.
The year 1972 saw the first ever players strike which delayed the start of the season until mid April. At the season’s inception, Carlton Fisk was the Red Sox number three catcher but by the time the summer winds blew at Fenway, “Pudge” Fisk and his number 27 were entrenched behind home plate.
He was an instant hit, because he could hit. A pull hitter with power with a swing made for Fenway, he was a stalwart behind the plate with a canon for an arm. The old timers said he was the best catcher the Red Sox had seen since “Birdie” Tebbetts crouched behind the plate during the 1946 pennant winning campaign.
Tough, hard-nosed and honest, he called out veteran Reggie Smith and superstar Carl Yastrzemski in August of his rookie year for not providing leadership in the clubhouse. “We are a young team and we look to them” he said in the midst of the 1972 pennant race and both responded with torrid Septembers. The Red Sox took the race to the last weekend of the season before succumbing to the Tigers. He was 24, he could catch, he could throw, he could hit and he could lead. And when the year ended, and the pundits and writers cast their votes for the seasons best; Carlton Fisk won the Gold Glove for American League catchers, and became the first unanimous selection for the honor of Rookie of the Year.
And so it was, this week in Fenway Park history, November, 1972…..
An All Time Fenway Favorite……