Thursday, February 25, 2010

1976 Topps #365 - Carlton Fisk

  • Does it seem like a lot of the Red Sox cards were taken during games instead of posed? Seems that way to me.

  • Carlton Fisk was born in Vermont, but always claimed New Hampshire as his home. Apparently the nearest hospital was across the state line in Vermont so that's why he was born there. Fisk was the #1 draft pick (4th overall) of the Boston Red Sox in 1967. His minor league batting averages weren't real impressive, but he had some power and was a good catcher. Fisk came up to the majors for two games late in 1969 and went 0 for 5. This enabled him to become a rare 4-decade player, as his playing career didn't end until 1993.

  • Fisk was in the minors again in 1970 and most of 1971. He played in 14 games for the Red Sox late in 1971 and batted .313 in 48 at bats. Fisk was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1972, won his first Gold Glove, and was in the All Star Game (he was 1 for 2 with a run scored). Carlton led the AL with nine triples and batted .293 with 22 HR and 61 RBI in 131 games. Fisk finished 4th in AL MVP voting in 1972. The Challenge that Inspired Carlton Fisk - March 1973 Baseball Digest.

  • Fisk was the starting catcher for the AL in the 1973 All Star Game (he was 0 for 2) and batted .246 with 26 HR and 71 RBI in 135 games. Carlton Fisk Deflates the Sophomore Jinx - September 1973 Baseball Digest. He was off to a good start in 1974 (.299 with 11 HR in 52 games) when he tore the ligaments in his knee in a home plate collision on June 28. Fisk missed the rest of the 1974 season. He was voted as the starting catcher for the AL in the 1974 All Star Game but didn't play due to the injury.

  • The injury changed Fisk's career. He realized how much hard work it took to come back from the injury and continued to work hard to prepare for the baseball season each year for the rest of his career. In 1975 Fisk was ready to return to action but his forearm was broken by a pitched ball in spring training and he didn't play until June 23. He played in 79 games and batted a career-high .331. Fisk batted .417 in the NLCS and although he batted only .240 in the World Series, he hit that famous game 6 12-inning home run which extended the Series to a 7th game.

  • In 1976 Fisk returned to the All Star Game (he was 0 for 1) and batted .255 with 17 HR and 58 RBI. Carlton had a nice year in 1977, batting .315 with 26 HR and 102 RBI and finishing 8th in MVP voting. He was the AL starting catcher in the All Star Game and was 0 for 2. Fisk Did What Many Great Catchers Didn't - May 1978 Baseball Digest

  • Fisk caught in a career-high 154 games in 1978 and batted .284 with 20 HR and 88 RBI. He started in the All Star Game and was 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly. He's Behind the Plate but Ahead of the Game! - October 1978 Baseball Digest. In 1979 Fisk was injured and played in only one game before May 23. In 91 games he batted .272 with 10 HR and 52 RBI.

  • The 1980 season was Fisk's last as a member of the Boston Red Sox. He batted .289 with 18 HR and 62 RBI. Carlton started the All Star Game and struck out twice. The Red Sox made a blunder and didn't mail Fisk's 1981 contract offer in time, so he was declared a free agent. The Red Sox offered Fisk a $2 million guaranteed contract, but the Chicago White Sox offered him $3.5 million. He wasn't sure if he wanted to leave Boston, but after the Red Sox traded Fred Lynn, Rick Burleson, and Butch Hobson to the California Angels Fisk questioned the team's committment to winning and signed with the White Sox.

  • Fisk started the 1981 All Star Game (1 for 3 with a run scored) and won the AL Silver Slugger Award at catcher. He batted .263 with 7 HR and 45 RBI in 91 games. In 1982 Fisk was 0 for 2 as the starting catcher in the All Star Game. He batted .267 with 14 HR and 65 RBI.

  • The White Sox finally won the AL West in 1983 and Fisk was a big part of the team's success. Fisk finished third in AL MVP voting as he batted .289 with 26 HR and 86 RBI. Fisk batted .176 in the ALCS as the Baltimore Orioles knocked out the White Sox and went on to the World Championship.

  • Fisk missed almost a month with injuries in 1984. He batted .231 with 21 HR and 43 RBI in 102 games. Fisk played a lot more in 1985 (153 games) and hit a career-high 37 home runs. Carlton was the starting catcher for the AL in the All Star Game (0 for 2) and won the Silver Slugger Award.

  • Carlton played fewer games (125) in 1986 and batted .221 with 14 HR and 63 RBI. In 1987 he batted .256 with 23 HR and 71 RBI in 135 games. Fisk missed 2 1/2 months of the 1988 season with an injury. He batted .277 with 19 HR and 50 RBI and won the Silver Slugger award despite missing all of that time.

  • In 1989 Fisk split time with Ron Karkovice behind the plate for the White Sox. He batted .293 with 13 HR and 68 RBI in 103 games. Carlton played a lot more in 1990 (135 games) and batted .285 with 18 HR and 65 RBI. Carlton Fisk: He's a Durable Wonder Behind the Plate - December 1990 Baseball Digest. Fisk set the record for home runs by a catcher in August when he hit #349 (Mike Piazza now holds the record).

  • Fisk played in his last All Star Game (he was 1 for 2) as a 43-year-old in 1991. He batted .241 with 18 HR and 74 RBI in his last season as a regular player. In 1992 he played in 62 games and his average dipped to .229. In 1993 Fisk set the record for games caught (2226) and was released soon afterward (Ivan Rodriguez later broke the record). He batted .189 in his final season.

  • A memorable incident in 1989: Deion Sanders didn't run out a pop fly. The next time Sanders came up Fisk said, "If you don't play it [the game] right, I'm going to kick your ass right here."

  • Fisk was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

  • Fisk's number is retired both by the Red Sox and the White Sox.

  • Liked to face: Dan Quisenberry (.458 in 24 AB); Al Fitzmorris (.394 in 33 AB); Glenn Abbott (.345 with 6 HR in 29 AB)
  • Hated to face: John Denny (.000 in 13 AB); Ken Schrom (.077 in 26 AB); Curt Young (.097 in 31 AB) 

Remember this commercial?


  1. I was very familiar with Copenhagen, Skoal and Happy Days when I was a kid. I liked the little tins, and I'm shocked I never got hooked on tobacco because of it. I also always wondered why the players who advertised it always mentioned using Copenhagen or Skoal, but never Happy Days.

  2. Matt, I can remember it like it was yesterday when he hit that freakin game winning home run in game 6 against the Reds. At least we still won the series, but when I went to bed that night as a 9 year old kid who had moved from Cincy to Texas, I was CRUSHED!!!!! Sweet revenge the next game, though.