October 21

This Day in History

Sports

Oct 21, 1975:

Fisk homers off foul pole

On October 21, 1975, Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hits a homer off the left-field pole to beat the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth game of the World Series. The Sox went on to lose the championship, of course. Still, even 30 years later, the films and photos of Fisk urgently trying to wave the ball into fair territory provide some of the game’s most enduring and exciting images. As team president Larry Lucchino pointed out, "the appeal of baseball at its best was illustrated that night."

Before Game 6 began, the Sox were trailing the Reds three games to two. They took an early lead—they were winning 3-0 after their first at-bat of the game—but the Reds tied the game in the fifth. In the top of the eighth, the Big Red Machine took a 6-3 lead. But then, with one out to go in that inning, Red Sox pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo stepped to the plate. He knocked a three-run homer into the stands, and the game was tied. In the next four innings, the teams shuffled through a remarkable 12 pitchers as they struggled to gain the upper hand. The Sox failed to score in the ninth with the bases loaded and nobody out, and one of their outfielders made a miraculous catch in the 11th to prevent Cincinnati from ending the game.

Then, at 12:34 in the morning, Carlton Fisk came to bat at the bottom of the 12th. He cracked Pat Darcy’s pitch hard to the left. He stood at the plate, bouncing up and down and flailing at the ball as though he was helping an airplane land on a dark runway. "I was just wishing and hoping," he said at a ceremony a few years ago. "Maybe, by doing it, you know, you ask something of somebody with a higher power. I like to think that if I didn’t wave, it would have gone foul." Whether or not the waving was responsible, the ball bounced off of the bright-yellow foul pole above the Green Monster for a home run. Fenway’s organist played the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah while Fisk rounded the bases.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the Curse of the Bambino was a stubborn one after all. The Sox lost the series 4-3 the next night, on a ninth-inning single to center field. In 2005, to commemorate his amazing homer, the Red Sox officially named the left-field pole after Fisk.

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