Oct. 30 Carlton Fisk pregame interview
Q. I was wondering if you've waved any other hits fair other than that one and succeeded?
CARLTON FISK: Which one was that again (laughter)?
I've tried to wave them back in play on the golf course, but it doesn't always work. I always lose the ball. It goes in the water.
But no, I haven't, I don't know why it did that night, but for whatever reason it worked.
Q. Can you tell us your memories of doing that?
CARLTON FISK: Well, that was quite a game. I don't know if anybody remembers that game from the beginning, and we'd had a lot of rainouts. And we were ahead and behind and behind and behind and tied and then almost ahead in the 9th. And then we went into the 12th inning. And Freddy (Lynn) and I were standing on the on-deck circle.
And I don't know what got over me, but I was kind of rejuvenated in that Pete Rose was up the inning before. And he came up to the plate all excited, "Isn't this the best game you've ever played in? I've never played in a game like this before. This is the greatest game." About the time I was falling asleep because it was way past my bedtime. And then I kind of realized, this is a pretty great game.
So then I was up the next inning, talking to Freddy on deck, and I must have had some good karma, good thoughts or something. I said, "Freddy, I'm going to hit one off the wall. Drive me in." Because he almost won the game in the bottom of the 9th; if that little fly ball to left field had been 10 or 12 feet deeper, then, you know, might never have gotten up to the plate. So he said, "Yeah, that sounds great to me." So and then two pitches later it was off the foul pole.
And when I hit it I knew it was high enough. I knew it was long enough but I didn't know if it was going to stay fair. And then it did, which was pretty sweet.
Q. Mike Matheny became a manager, he was a catcher. Did you ever think about getting involved in that after retiring?
CARLTON FISK: I think passingly I had thought about it, but I played a lot longer than he did. I didn't get done playing until I was 45. And at that time I was really tired of the rigors of the game, the travel and the day after day after day, the playing. And I wasn't very good at the end, anyway, so that was the worst part of it, I guess.
So I was really, really, really looking forward to getting away from that schedule. And the further away I got, I think the better I liked it. You play the game for such a long time and you can retire or get released and you can walk away, but the game never leaves your insides. It never leaves your heart.
So you enjoy it a lot of different ways. And I enjoy watching guys like Mike Matheny and John Farrell.
Q. I want to ask you, the next day's game, Game 7 was also a great game. Obviously not a great result, what do you remember about that game, being on deck with Yaz, having a chance to tie it in the ninth?
CARLTON FISK: I was hoping that he'd hit a ball off the wall or into the net, because I've seen him do it before. He was tough. He had to face a left-hander and hit a fly ball. But you could say, well, he just -- he didn't have a bad swing, and just hit it in the air.
The great part about that whole series was the feeling that we all came out with after it was over. Because at the beginning of the series, it was the Big Red Machine and the Little Beantown Boys. We were supposed to get steamrolled in four or five, and weren't supposed to really compete with them because they were the Big Red Machine. And we had a lot of really young guys on our team. I was a third-year player as was Dwight (Evans) and (Rick) Burleson, and then we had Jimmy (Rice) and Freddy. Although Jimmy didn't get a chance to play, they were all rookies, and we had some rookies on the pitching staff. They were a much more experienced club than we were, but I thought we competed well and were just as talented.
Q. Being from this area and playing with the Red Sox for a long time and coming close in '75, you're kind of familiar with sort of the angst that went around with the Red Sox and coming close but failing. How do you look at it now that this team is on the verge of winning a third World Series since '04? It must be kind of mind blowing.
CARLTON FISK: It really is. It really stands out in that they're doing it with different kinds of clubs, too. But we had, in the '70s, we had some nice teams in the '70s, averaging 94, 3, 4, 5 wins. And after '75 it was, oh, you know, "We just missed, so we'll get them next year or we'll be back." Yeah, well, that's something that is only up to the baseball gods whether you get back or not. And to have the Red Sox win their first in '04 after 80 or however many years. And then the White Sox win in '05, after 80 how many ever years. And then the Red Sox win again in '07. And then they're going to win again in '13. So what a decade for this club.
Q. Do you really get a sense of a change in the region, because of the fact that everybody was like, "We'll come close," but not do it? Now everybody kind of expects it.
CARLTON FISK: Well, you only have your own individual experience with the club. So it's what everybody ever realized is that we did come close. We had some good teams. We competed with the best teams. If we had gotten by Baltimore or by New York by those one or two games that it boiled down to, you know, or gotten by Detroit or whatever. So we came close and we didn't have that one solid pitcher, that one career year as a player. And you boil that down at the end, you get one or two outs or get one or two hits and you've got a few more wins and you go on.
So it was always close and we never felt that we couldn't compete or wouldn't ever be back, and we obviously tried to. Look at what happened in '78. It took us 163 games instead of 162. We had some great clubs.
Q. I was just wondering if you could kind of go over the range of emotions back at that series. You win a Game 6 in such dramatic fashion, such unbelievable fashion. And you had to be going into Game 7 with just the karma's with us, to win a game like that. And then to lose Game 7, was it almost like a sense of disbelief that you guys didn't win Game 7 after the way you won Game 6?
CARLTON FISK: I think we all felt good about Game 7. I don't know if anybody knew how it was going to work out, but I think we felt good about it. And I keep bragging, Joe Morgan hit a little flim flare in centerfield to win the game.
But little did anybody know that seven games, each game was to going to be decided by one run. The teams that they had and the run production that we had, you know, for the course of the year, to have every game decided by one run. And there wasn't a lot of big scores, like 10, 11 runs.
The thing you notice as the difference now is that the starters and the bullpen are used way differently than it was back then. I mean Luis Tiant wins Game 5 with 168 pitches. Would that ever happen today? No. And how often do you see a guy that's dealing, just dealing out there, but because he's at the 114 pitch, they take him out and then things don't work out so well for the reliever. But it wasn't like he was getting them out, he was still getting them out, but because he reached a certain level, okay, we need to use the rest of our bullpen. We all used to say, "Stay in there, dude, until you can't get anybody out."
Q. We've seen your home run so many times this time of year, year after year. When you see it, do you turn away? Do you watch? Do you say "that's me" or anything like that?
CARLTON FISK: Well, I look at it mechanically first to see what kind of swing it was. I said, that had to be a pretty good swing. Where the ball was. But then I go, geez, who was that young guy? Because that was the beginning of my career. I wish it -- I don't know if you can wish this -- you wish it had happened ten years later so you could have fully appreciated the road that it takes to get there. I don't ever get tired of seeing it.
Q. Understanding this region as well as you do and having played here, what do you think it would be like for this team and the city to clinch the World Series championship here?
CARLTON FISK: Oh, it would be -- the last two were not clinched here. And I got left out of the last two, also. I was supposed to throw out the first pitch in the sixth game against the Cardinals in '04; there was no sixth game. I was supposed to throw out the first pitch in the sixth game against the Rockies in '07 and they won in four games. Now I'm saying, okay, why don't you lose a couple of games? And that's not a real good thing wishing that would happen. They've lost two and this is the sixth game, so they can win tonight. That would be great. We won our sixth game, "our". The sixth game in '75.
So this is the first sixth game, World Series sixth game since then. First one here, right, yeah.
Q. How would you compare Michael Wacha to a pitcher like Nolan Ryan?
CARLTON FISK: I couldn't hit Nolan Ryan, so I don't know how you compare. I probably couldn't hit Wacha either.
I don't see that Wacha has the same persona that Nolan Ryan has. I don't know how to describe it other than Nolan Ryan was conveniently intimidating, where Wacha is not. He throws hard. But he doesn't have the reputation that, oh, no, he throws 100, but one might get away, you know. And that was all perfectly planned by Ryan. Everybody's worried about one of his fastballs getting away and hitting somebody, because it had a couple of times.
But, boy, that St. Louis team, they've got quite a pitching staff, I tell you that. It's too bad Chris Carpenter couldn't get involved in that because he had quite a career. But when you've got -- geez, you get Wainwright out there and Wacha. It's going to be a difficult challenge. Not that -- the way Lackey pitched the last time out, too. I mean, there's another reason there I was just talking about. The guy was getting guys out, and he didn't let him work through a situation, and you bring somebody else in, and then gives up all those runs and a couple more runs.
So like I say, you walk a guy, give up a hit, that doesn't mean your stuff is bad. That doesn't mean you're tired. That doesn't mean you need to be taken out. But because you get the long man, left-handed, right-handed, short man, left-handed, right hand, plus your closer, sometimes you get stuck or pi geonholed in, if I make this decision, because that's what this guy's role is, it's the right decision. Well, it's not always the right decision, I don't think. Not that John has been making many bad decisions lately. But when one blows up then you say, well, the guy was still getting them out.
But, no, Nolan Ryan, he'd strike me out the same way all the time. Throw me a 100-mile-an-hour fastball, I'd pull it foul, and I'd jump out there. And then he'd throw a curveball at the back of my ear, and I'd go, "uh-oh!" Then it would be a strike and I'd be out of there (laughter). But it was self-preservation, basically, "Yeah, I can play tomorrow. Yeah!"