11/10/2004 2:13 PM ET
Carlton Fisk chats with fans online
Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk participated in a live online chat with fans. "Pudge" answered questions like how he feels about the Red Sox winning the World Series, shared memories from his playing days and talked about what keeps him busy now.
Carlton Fisk: Great being with you all today. I look forward to hearing your questions and answering as many as I can.
claudy23: Carlton, thanks so much for doing this chat. You are my favorite player ever! How do you feel about the Red Sox winning the World Series and why weren't you at the parade, being the most famous World Series player ever in a Red Sox uniform?
Fisk: It's like, wow -- finally. I wish I was a part of it. It would have been great to have been a part of it and we came close when I was there, but who would have thought it would be a four-game sweep?
mlbfan: How sweet was it as a former Red Sox player, who had his run-ins with the Yanks, to see them come back from being down 3-0 and win the ALCS?
Fisk: I don't think there's anything sweeter than beating the Yankees. Someone gave me a hat that said "YH" on it and it took me a while to figure out what it said. It turns out that it means Yankee Hater, and for us former Red Sox players, it's extra special, considering it came against the Yanks in the LCS.
animal_mother: What meant more to you after you first Major League season -- becoming Rookie of the Year or becoming the best defensive catcher by winning the Gold Glove?
Fisk: It means the same thing. I don't think I could have won the ROY without being considered the best defensive catcher. The strange thing is, that for my entire career I only won one Gold Glove, in my rookie year. I was pretty good behind the plate during my career, and yet I only won one Gold Glove, so the one that I got is pretty special.
Nicholas_Marrier: No one will ever be quite like you. In my opinion, you are the best catcher ever in baseball. Is there anyone in the Majors now that reminds you of yourself?
Fisk: There are so many elements that go into being a complete catcher. I tried to be a complete PLAYER. There are a few, but probably Ivan Rodriguez, because he has the whole package. In the National League, I like (Mike) Matheny, and of course (Mike) Piazza is great with the bat. I had a chance to see Matheny in the World Series, and he does an excellent job behind the plate. I also think Jason Varitek did a fantastic job because he was really very valuable in the Yankees series and the World Series. Varitek is the glue that holds that team together.
onebank: Who was the best pitcher you caught and the hardest one?
Fisk: I caught a lot of good pitchers, I'm not sure I can narrow it down to one. Luis Tiant was probably my favorite to catch when I was with the BoSox. With the ChiSox, I caught La Marr Hoyt and Rich Dotson, and also Jack McDowell. McDowell was as good as they came for a few years. Bobby Thigpen, too. I caught Tom Seaver's 300th victory in New York.
crunkcowboy: What was your reaction when all sorts of people and media began covering all the "old timers" from the Red Sox as they became closer and closer to winning the championship? Did you feel as you were part of it?
Fisk: As an alum of the Red Sox, we realized how rare and special it was. (Jim) Lonborg, (Carl Yastrzemski ) Yaz, (Rico) Petrocelli and others from the 1967 team were tied to the team. And those of us from the 1975 team were connected in a way. Everyone who has played for the Red Sox has wished that they could have had the fortunes this team had.
keith_smith: What have you been up to since you retired?
Fisk: All of my children got married, and my oldest daughter has three girls, so I'm a granddaddy. And my youngest daughter is expecting a child. Other than that, I've been doing some appearances and staying healthy and involved. We spend time between Chicago and Florida and raising my orchids.
afonseca: Carlton, my dad and I were lucky enough to be in the stands when the Red Sox retired your number. Quick question from that day -- did you know if Luis Tiant was going to be there or not? You seemed real surprised when he came out of the dugout.
Fisk: That was a very, very special day. I've had three special days after my career ended: that day, the day I had my number retired in Chicago and my induction to the Hall of Fame. That day I didn't know he was going to be there. Luis is a very special person to me and I was very pleased. It's great to see my number up there every time I go back to Fenway. It's a spectacular feeling.
nikki51883: Hi Carlton! Thanks so much for your time to participate in this chat. What players on the 2004 Red Sox team do you think have the potential to be Hall of Famers? How did you feel about Jason Varitek's performance this year?
Fisk: That's a really good question, there are so many great players. The credentials for being in the HOF span several years, not just one. There are guys on this team that are building those credentials -- Curt Schilling, for one. I like Varitek a lot, if he can stay healthy and play a long time. And Manny Ramirez certainly has a chance because of his great offensive numbers. Also, Pedro (Martinez) has a good chance, too, if he keeps it going.
onebank: When you played for the American Legion team in Claremont, N.H., didn't you pitch?
Fisk: I only played for that team one year, when I was 15 or 16 years old. Then I played for two years in Vermont in American Legion. I didn't catch at all, and I was a shortstop mostly. I also played left field, too. But that was when I could run some. I did pitch some, but mostly played shortstop.
eltiante75: Do you recall your thoughts heading to the plate before the 12th inning in World Series Game 6 vs. the Reds?
Fisk: I did have one specific thought as I stood in the on-deck circle with Fred Lynn. I said, "Fred, I think I'm going to hit one off the wall, so drive me in." But as it turns out, I hit one off the pole and it ended the game, and the rest is history. But Fred and I were just ready to go home. We were tired!
siriceman64: Pudge, how did you get your nickname?
Fisk: I got it when I was a baby. When I was one year old, I weighed 36 pounds and I was 36 inches long. And I stayed big and round and uncoordinated until I was about 15 years old. Then I grew something like eight inches in one year when I was 17 or 18 years old. I don't know who gave me the nickname "Pudge," but I think it was an aunt.
mlb_com_member: Have you ever tried to catch a knuckleballer like Tim Wakefield?
Fisk: My first experience with a knuckleballer at the big league level was my rookie year at the All-Star Game. I caught Wilbur Wood at the All-Star Game. It's a special thing to be able to catch the knuckleball. (Doug) Mirabelli does a great job for the Red Sox. Later in my career I caught Charlie Hough with the White Sox, and he had a great knuckleball. But Ron Karkovice caught him in games and I just warmed Charlie up on the sidelines. But it's a good thing to have a special catcher for that because the regular catcher gets a day off.
Steven_Canfarelli: Would you ever consider getting back into baseball on a full-time basis? Coaching, announcing etc.?
Fisk: I have considered it. I have wanted to be reintroduced to the game on a part-time basis.
onebank: I was at Game 6. Didn't it get rained out for three days?
Fisk: I can't recall how many days it was. I know we had a lot of rain. We had an hour rain delay in one game and Bill Lee had been pitching. And then after the delay, Bill was sent back out there. There was a lot of rain that series and it sort of takes some edge off, but it still turned out to be pretty exciting.
gotribe1691: How do you feel about the increasing roles of offensive catchers like Victor Martinez with the Indians? Do you agree with guys like that moving to first base to prolong their career?
Fisk: It's always nice to have a guy that can catch and contribute offensively. It used to be if he could catch that was key and offense was a plus, but now offense has become a part of the package. Guys are expected to contribute both defensively and offensively. As for moving to first base, if you are a true catcher and are so involved in the game behind the plate, as soon as you move to another position, the game seems to move much slower. In Chicago, they wanted to put me in left field, and I didn't enjoy that much. I felt like I was removed from the game. I think guys who move to another position find it hard to stay mentally in the game.
vasoxgirl: What was your greatest moment as a Red Sox? The home run?
Fisk: The most visible moment was the home run in the 1975 World Series. But also, if I didn't come back from a serious knee injury earlier in my career (1974), I never could have had that moment. I feel like that's a major accomplishment to have come back from that injury.
Scott_Dube: Can you share any unusual experiences catching Bill Lee?
Fisk: We were playing in Minnesota and (Harmon) Killebrew comes up. Killebrew is one of the best home run hitters ever, and Bill goes 3-0 on Harmon. So Bill throws a 3-0 fastball to Harmon and Killebrew crushes it, I mean it had a comet tail on it. So I go out and ask him, "What are you thinking?" And he says "I didn't think he would be looking for it there!" But that was how Bill Lee played. He was a great pitcher.
baseballm27: What are your suggestions for up and coming young catchers of the future, Mr. Fisk?
Fisk: If you want to make it easy, go play first base. But if you want to be a catcher, you have to be tough. You have to learn a lot about the game. There's a mental and physical component to being a catcher. Physically, you have to get your legs and body as strong as you can make them.
onebank: What did you think about the hairdos this year and last year when most players shaved their heads? I remember your high school basketball team shaving their heads into mohawks!
Fisk: One summer I had a mohawk haircut, when we had won the state championship in basketball. I had promised I'd do it if we won, and someone said they'd give me $5, so I did it. But I never got my $5. Last year, it was about facial hair and I grew a goatee. But then this year, it was long hair coming out all over the place, and I wasn't going to do that. But whatever unifies the team, it's great.
Diane_Hogan: Do you stay in touch with any of your BoSox teammates?
Fisk: Not too many, no. In my travels, I do get to see some guys when I get to Boston. But I live in the Chicago area and spend a lot of time in the Midwest. And we come down to Bradenton in Florida, so we're close to the White Sox camp. I don't see too many Red Sox teammates.
Adele_Maurier: You are tied to Fenway Park in everyone's memory, do you think Fenway should be saved or replaced?
Fisk: I think Fenway Park is an historical landmark. There are a couple of concerns -- is it safe and is it big enough to support the team? The team needs revenues, and is it large enough to do that? So far it seems to work real well. It would be shame to lose Fenway Park, but if they have to build a new park, maybe they could make a new-throwback Fenway Park, I'm not sure.
Fisk: Thanks for participating. Sometimes us old guys feel a little removed from the game, so it's great to be involved. It's always nice to sit around and talk baseball with great fans of the game. Hope to see you all in Cooperstown in 2005 during Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, July 29-Aug. 1. Thanks again, and I appreciate everyone who sent in questions and took part.
Moderator: On behalf of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and MLB.com, thank you all for participating in today's chat with Carlton Fisk. And a special thanks to Pudge for making it all happen.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.