The last time Carlton Fisk was so emotional he was leaping for joy after coaxing his 12th-inning homer to win Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
The stubbornly stoic catcher let his emotions get the better of him again Sunday when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Big Red Machinists Sparky Anderson and Tony Perez.
“This ends a very emotional week for me,” Fisk said. “In coming here to accept this honor, I had to look back at so many things that I’ve experienced in my life to get to this point. So many people have been there for me. So many things have happened. Its been a journey.”
Stopping several times to compose himself or dry his eyes, Fisk gave a rambling but moving acceptance speech in which he thanked everyone from his parents to Curt Flood to Donald Fehr to the Comiskey Park clubhouse manager.
A Teary — And Long — Speech
And — as he did as a player — he went on and on, speaking for nearly an hour even though the limit was supposed to be 15 minutes.
“You think about what you want to say and those you want to thank, but you can’t really gauge how you’re going to feel,” he said. “It’s obviously something I’m never going to forget.”
But nothing would be more appropriate for a guy who outlasted every catcher who came before him, catching more games — 2,229 — than anyone else in history.
“I know I pushed the limits of how long I should play and how long I could play, at the most difficult and demanding position in the game of baseball, and at the highest level that it is played,” he said. “I feel I stayed true to my passion.”
Fisk, 52, played the first 11 years of his career with Boston before leaving on bad terms and signing with the White Sox. He played 13 seasons in Chicago before having a falling out there, too.
He was elected to the Hall in his second year of eligibility, and chose to wear a Red Sox cap into the Hall.
“Without question, my career is a tale of two cities, Boston and Chicago,” he said. “And it was in that order.”
Never Won a World Series
Although best remembered for his game-winning homer in the 1975 Series, Fisk’s career is more notable for its longevity. In addition for the career record for games caught, he hit a record 351 of his 379 homers as a catcher.
But he never won the World Series — in spite of his Game 6 heroics. Because the next game, Perez hit a homer to help Cincinnati win the game and the series, 4-3.
And that didn’t escape Perez.
“I want to thank my friend, Carlton Fisk, who was good enough to call for the blooper pitch one more time,” Perez joked.
Even now, Fisk refuses to accept defeat.
“You know that we won that series,” he said to Anderson and Perez, “three games to four.”