08/08/07 12:22 AM ET
Fisk's World Series blast lives on
Pudge's blast slams door on Game 6 of 1975 World Series
By Alex McPhillips / MLB.com
So ended Game 6 of the 1975 World Series vs. the Reds, according to the pen of Peter Gammons, then a 30-year-old reporter for The Boston Globe.
With Major League Baseball crowning a new home run king Tuesday in Barry Bonds, the memories of other notable home runs come to mind for baseball fans. For Red Sox Nation, the most memorable home run in club history was Carlton Fisk's walk-off shot in 1975.
"That has to be No. 1," said Johnny Pesky, who, as first-base coach, had a clear view of the high, arcing tracer as Fisk waved it fair. "I've seen home runs going by, [Ted Williams] and guys like that during the season, but not during the World Series and playoffs. I've never seen anything like that."
What separates Bonds' record-breaker from Fisk's hair-raising shot off the foul pole, of course, is a seasonal difference. Fisk's home run postponed the end of the 1975 Red Sox, a bunch held tight by such old stalwarts as Carl Yastrzemski and Luis Tiant, and such young stars as Fred Lynn.
In Gammons' words, the homer brought "back summertime for another day."
Other top contenders for the title of Boston's Most Memorable Home Run -- Dave Henderson's two-out, two-strike shot against California in the 1986 American League Championship Series, David Ortiz's extra-inning blast against the Yankees in Game 4 of the unforgettable 2004 ALCS -- significantly altered Red Sox postseasons past.
Pesky remembers when Bernie Carbo muscled a three-run homer in the eighth inning on that cold night in 1975. Hardly forgotten but not nearly as celebrated as the tiebreaker, Carbo's shot made Fisk's moment possible.
"He got the big hit that put us in the game," Pesky said.
Dick Bresciani, Boston's vice president of publications and team historian, was a public relations assistant in 1975. One of his duties was to fight his way into the dugout during the eighth inning of playoff games so he could prepare players to face the media.
"I got down in the bottom of the eighth, and I heard the crowd roar," Bresciani said. "And I got out there, and we had two men on base and Carbo was coming up."
Bresciani watched Carbo's shot land 10 rows deep in the center-field bleachers. In the pressbox, Sport magazine editor Dick Schaap had been collecting World Series MVP ballots. Suddenly, the game was tied.
According to Bresciani, the memory of Fisk's home run lives on through its cultural significance.
"Everybody remembers the Fisk [homer] because it was a big thing, it was national television, it was in the 12th inning, it was a memorable game," he said. "It was a great game. But it put us into Game 7" -- which the Red Sox lost, 4-3.
As legend has it, the cameraman behind the Green Monster saw a rat scurry along the ground and thus failed to switch off his camera -- which would have given way to the main feed and provided viewers a live shot of the ball's flight. Instead they watched Fisk hop along the first-base line, physically willing the ball to stay a few inches to the right.
The moment has become sacrosanct, a slice of both sports history and American pop culture. Viewers are just as likely to spot Fisk in the movies ("Good Will Hunting") as on ESPN Classic.
In the Oct. 22, 1975, edition of The Boston Globe, Gammons wrote, "For this game to end so swiftly, so definitely, was the way it had to end."
But, he added, Fisk's shot "brought a 7-6 end to a game that will be the pride of historians in the year 2525."
Other memorable home runs:
Sept. 8, 1919: With his 26th "mighty swing," according to The New York Times, Boston's young Babe Ruth breaks Buck Freeman's 20-year-old single-season record for home runs. He finishes the season with a then-record 29. "A more powerful swinger never played the national game," the Times wrote.
Sept. 28, 1960: Williams homers in the final at-bat of his career, thrilling a small crowd at Fenway Park but refusing to tip his cap. The homer is remembered in John Updike's famous New Yorker piece, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu."
July 23, 1967: Boston's 22-year-old sensation, Tony Conigliaro, hits his 16th home run of the season, becoming the youngest player in history to hit career homer No. 100.
Oct. 12, 1986: With the team down to its last strike, Henderson hits Boston's second two-run homer in the ninth against the California Angels to send the game into extra innings. Boston wins on a Henderson sac fly in the 11th.
Oct. 4, 2003: With the game tied 1-1 in the 11th and with the Red Sox on the verge of being swept from the American League Division Series, pinch-hitter Trot Nixon hammers a walk-off homer to dead center off Oakland's Rich Harden. The Red Sox win the next two games, completing an 0-2 comeback.
Oct. 17, 2004: Two taut, scoreless innings after Dave Roberts' famed stolen base saved the series, a legend is born when Big Papi hits a walk-off homer off the Yankees' Paul Quantrill in the 12th, bringing the Sox within three games in an ALCS that they eventually win.
Sept. 21, 2006: Off the Twins' Johan Santana, Ortiz hits his 51st home run, breaking the single-season Red Sox record held by Jimmie Foxx. He finishes with 54 homers.
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.