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Although he is mostly remembered for his one swing and the seconds that followed, Carlton Fisk left a lasting legacy behind the plate. He finished among the top 10 in Most Valuable Player Award balloting in four of his first 12 full seasons and ranked between 13th and 18th on three other occasions.
On Fisk’s 74th birthday, here’s a list of 10 other accomplishments or moments that defined his career.
1. False or true?
Oct. 21, 1975
Fisk’s signature moment was his 12th-inning homer that enabled the Red Sox to outlast the Reds, 7-6, in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series — widely considered one of the finest ballgames ever played. Fisk was captured by a television camera moving quickly and urgently as he pushed Pat Darcy’s 1-0 pitch down to the left-field line. Fisk’s fervent actions have been immortalized in baseball history.
2. Set standards
Through his 24 seasons in the Majors, a record for catchers, Fisk gave other receivers goals to pursue by establishing two significant career marks for his position: catching in 2,226 games and hitting 351 homers as a backstop. Fisk hit his 328th homer to pass Johnny Bench on Aug. 17, 1990; Mike Piazza surpassed Fisk on May 5, 2004. Fisk eclipsed Bob Boone for most games by a catcher on June 22, 1993. Ivan Rodriguez overtook Fisk on June 17, 2009.
Fisk became the American League’s first unanimous Rookie of the Year Award winner by garnering all 24 first-place votes. He batted . 293 with 22 home runs and nine triples, a rare total for a catcher, while compiling . 370 OBP, . 538 SLG, and. 909 OPS marks.
4. Changing Sox
April 10, 1981
Most casual fans probably associate Fisk more with the Red Sox, for whom he played 1,078 games in his first 11 seasons. The Red Sox logo is emblazoned on the Cooperstown cap. But he actually spent the majority of his career with the White Sox (1,421 games in 13 seasons), whom he joined as a free agent following the 1980 campaign. Fisk’s White Sox debut proved to be particularly dramatic. He hit a home run in the eighth inning against Bob Stanley at Fenway Park, erasing Boston’s advantage of 2-0 and leading Chicago to a 5-3 victory.
Fisk’s 37 homers in 1985 set a single-season record for AL catchers and tied Dick Allen’s club record set in 1972. Fisk also amassed a personal-best 107 RBIs and matched a career high with 17 stolen bases. He hit just. 238 that year, compared with his lifetime average of . 269.
6. I’m here for the fun
Fisk caught 151 and 154 games in these two seasons, respectively. The handful of others who reached or exceeded the 150-game level in multiple seasons includes Gary Carter, Randy Hundley, Ted Simmons and Jim Sundberg.
7. Stunning recovery
Logistically, this shouldn’t have happened. Fisk tore multiple ligaments in his knees during a collision at home with Leron Lee of Cleveland in June 1974.. Fisk was told he would need reconstructive surgery, which could have ended his career. Instead, he was back on the field in ’75.
8. We will cycle together
May 16, 1984
Fisk did something that no other catcher could match. Fisk hit the cycle against Kansas City on this date. He also tripled in the seventh inning with Royals relief pitcher Dan Quisenberry, to complete his historic performance.
9. Respect your elders
July 9, 1991
Earning All-Star recognition for the 11th and final time in his career, Fisk made his Midsummer Classic swan song a memorable one. By singling in the sixth inning off Houston right-hander Pete Harnisch at Toronto’s Skydome, he became, at age 43, the oldest player to hit safely in All-Star competition.
10. Respect, period
May 22, 1990
Deion Sanders was a two-sport star. He scribbled a dollar sign with his knob end in dirt near the batter’s box during a game against Chicago White Sox. Sanders refused to make a routine play and run to first base. Fisk was furious at Sanders’ lack of respect for his game and continued his lecture until the game ended.
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