BOSTON — The first question Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk was asked Wednesday night during a meeting with the media was an obvious one: Did you ever wave any other balls you hit fair?
Fisk had a good laugh at that one while talking about his body-Englished, 12th-inning home run off Fenway Park’s left-field foul pole that ended the epic Game Six of the 1975 World Series here against Cincinnati.
“I’ve tried to wave them back in play on the golf course, but it doesn’t always work,” said Fisk, now 65 and a Sox ambassador. “I always lose the ball. It goes in the water. But no, I haven’t done any others. I don’t know why I did that night, but for whatever reason it worked.”
Fisk and 1975 pitching ace Luis Tiant received huge ovations from the Fenway faithful as they threw ceremonial first pitches prior to Game Six between the Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Fisk pulled a surprise by donning a fake beard in honor of the many Red Sox who’ve grown real ones this year.
Asked to reminisce about the dramatic ending of Game Six 38 years ago, Fisk’s eyes lit up like he was going to tell a big fish story. But much of what he said is well-documented over the years and true.
“I was kind of rejuvenated after Pete Rose was up the inning before and he came up to the plate all excited saying, ‘Isn’t this the best game you’ve ever played in? I’ve never played in a game like this before. This is the greatest game,’ ” Fisk recalled. “About the time I was falling asleep because it was way past my bedtime. And then I kind of realized, ‘This is a pretty great game.’ ”
(Rose is known to have said the same thing to Reds manager Sparky Anderson after his team lost and Anderson told his star that he was crazy.)
Fisk led off the 12th and talked to Fred Lynn on deck before approaching the plate to meet Reds reliever Pat Darcy.
“I must have had some good karma, good thoughts or something because I said, ‘Freddy, I’m going to hit one off the wall. Drive me in,’ ” Fisk said. “ … So he said, ‘Yeah, that sounds great to me.’ And then two pitches later it was off the foul pole. And when I hit it I knew it was high enough. I knew it was long enough but I didn’t know if it was going to stay fair.
“And then it did, which was pretty sweet.”
Fisk revealed he was supposed to throw a first pitch prior to Game Six at Fenway in both 2004 and 2007 but neither game was played because the Red Sox wrapped up sweeps of the Cardinals and Rockies on the road.
He said he’s thrilled the Red Sox have reversed their decades of negative history by closing in on their third title in 10 years. And his other team, the White Sox, even won a championship in 2005 to end an 88-year drought.
“It really stands out in that they’re doing it with different kinds of clubs, too,” Fisk said of the Red Sox. “In the ’70s, we had some nice teams averaging, 93-94-95 wins. And after ’75 it was, ‘We just missed, so we’ll get them next year or we’ll be back.’
“Yeah, well, that’s something that is only up to the baseball gods whether you get back or not. You have the Red Sox win their first in ’04 after 80 or however many years. And then the White Sox win in ’05, after 80 or how many ever years. And then the Red Sox win again in ’07. And then they’re going to win again in ’13. So what a decade.”
One of the biggest mysteries of the series has been why the Cardinals continue to pitch to red-hot Boston slugger David Ortiz, even in situations that would normally not call for an intentional walk.
Ortiz entered Game Six 11 for 15, with a .733 batting average that would rank second in Series annals to the .750 of Cincinnati’s Billy Hatcher in 1990. Ortiz has two homers, six RBIs and has walked four times, just once intentionally.
The major comparison being made is to Barry Bonds’ 2002 series for San Francisco against Anaheim. Bonds was 8 for 17 with four home runs but also walked 13 times – seven intentionally.
Bonds was walked three times intentionally in Game Four by John Lackey, Boston’s Game Six pitcher Wednesday night. So why have the Cardinals not simply put four fingers out more and told Ortiz to take his base?
Manager Mike Matheny danced around the question before Game Six.
“We take everything we can into consideration, and the way the game’s playing out, exactly where we are and how we are going to be careful,” Matheny said. “That’s all there is to it. We talked about it. We haven’t made it any big secret, and sometimes when we’re doing that, it doesn’t even work out how we’re playing it.”