Donning fake beard, Fisk relishes return in Game 6
Supporting current Red Sox, '75 World Series hero throws out first pitch at Fenway
BOSTON -- Carlton Fisk remembers a lot about the game that ended with his famous home run off the left-field foul pole in the 1975 World Series.
Fisk remembers how drama-filled the innings were leading up to that 12th-inning at-bat in Game 6. He remembers the Red Sox being ahead and behind and tied with the Reds in a back-and-forth contest that exhausted him by the end of the ninth. Fisk remembers standing in the on-deck circle with Fred Lynn to begin the 12th.
But the one thing that sticks out in Fisk's mind is Pete Rose blathering to him as he dug in the previous inning.
"He came up to the plate all excited," Fisk recalled. "'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.' [It was] 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.'"
Indeed, it was a pretty great game, one that is very much alive in the memories of longtime Red Sox fans and is still considered one of the greatest moments in team history, even with the two World Series championships they won in more modern times. Fisk's at-bat, and his animated gestures as he tried to will his home run to stay fair, is a permanent highlight in Beantown. It was a Game 6 for the ages, and a happy one for a fanbase that has also been haunted by that particular number.
It was no coincidence that the Red Sox brought back their Hall of Fame catcher to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to this Game 6. Boston returned to Fenway needing one more win to capture the title, and if there is such thing as Game 6 karma, it was on full display during pregame ceremonies. Fisk -- who donned a fake beard prior to throwing his pitch -- was joined on the mound by Luis Tiant, who was 2-0 in the 1975 World Series.
Fisk remembered feeling like he had something working for him heading into his 12th inning at-bat that fateful night at Fenway in '75. Standing on deck, he said to Lynn, "Freddy, I'm going to hit one off the wall. Drive me in."
"He said, 'Yeah, that sounds great to me,'" Fisk recalled. "Then two pitches later, it was off the foul pole. 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 hasn't had a lot of facetime during pregame ceremonies, but to no fault of his or the Red Sox's front-office organizers. The previous series simply didn't last long enough for his turn to come up, and in that respect, he was glad the current Red Sox-Cardinals faceoff stretched out a bit.
"I was supposed to throw out the first pitch in the sixth game against the Cardinals in '04; there was no sixth game," Fisk quipped. "I was supposed to throw out the first pitch in the sixth game against the Rockies in '07, and they won in four games. Now I'm saying, 'OK, why don't you lose a couple of games?'"
Fisk and Tiant weren't the only Boston staples asked to participate in the pregame ceremonies. Celtic band Dropkick Murphys, a local group that plays in venues all over the world, performed the national anthem, and they followed with their 2005 hit single, "I'm Shipping Up To Boston," complete with a group of five curly-haired dancing girls who put a modern twist on an old Irish jig.
The band's association with Boston and the Red Sox is also long and proud, especially through their charitable foundation, "The Claddagh Fund." Their revamp of the turn-of-the-century Red Sox rally song "Tessie" became the theme song for the team's 2004 World Series win. Dropkick Murphys played at Red Sox games multiple times in '04 and '07, and they played at this year's American League Championship Series clincher, with a perfect winning record at all those games.
Scheduled to performing "God Bless America" in the middle of the seventh inning was a quartet from the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band, including Master Sgt. Jennifer Dashnaw, Tech. Sgt. Quez Vasquez, Tech. Sgt. Niko Ellison and Staff Sgt. Rachel Webber.
Ten-year-old Jordan Laudani delivered the first ball to the mound with Hall of Famer and Red Sox Legend Jim Rice. Laudani, who is a member of the Watertown Boys & Girls Club, is in the fifth grade at Hosmer Elementary in Watertown, Mass.