COOPERSTOWN — Few New Englanders will ever forget Game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. It was close to 12:30 a.m. when Carlton Fisk came to bat. He had just caught 12 innings and the game was tied, 6-6. Fisk was exhausted and when he reached for his bat, it felt like a dead weight. Instead, he picked up teammate Rick Burleson’s bat, a half-inch shorter and 2 ounces lighter.
On the second pitch from Pat Darcy, Fisk blasted the ball down the left-field line. He started to wave his hands wildly to the right, trying to coax the ball to stay fair. The ball struck the left-field foul pole above the Green Monster and was ruled a home run. Game over.
The bat used by Fisk on that night has been in his possession these past 37 years.
“When I talked to Pudge last year about the bat, he told me no one had ever asked him to share it,” says Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Fisk’s bat is just one of the four dozen artifacts on display through the end of the year at the museum. The second-floor exhibition titled “FENtennial: Fenway Park’s First 100 Years’’ traces the history of the Boston ballpark through treasured memorabilia and intriguing objects, including a piece of tin used to create the Green Monster, a Jimmy Fund collection box to show the relationship between Fenway and the charitable organization, and a “Save Fenway Park” bumper sticker.
“These items help define why Fenway continues to be the great traditional landmark it has always been,” says Idelson, who grew up in West Newton. As a rite of passage, he would take the Green Line to Fenway for opening day games. Idelson worked for five years as a vendor at Fenway, selling popcorn, soda, and hot dogs.
“It was a good way to get to the ballpark. You stopped selling after six innings so you could see the last three innings of each game,” he says.
His first job out of college was in the Red Sox public relations department.
Having spent a decent portion of his childhood at Fenway Park, Idelson is excited about the interactive component of the FENtennial exhibition. Fans will get the chance to fill out a comment card and bring photographs that illustrate their Fenway memories. Their stories will be collected and showcased online. An additional promotion will allow visitors to exchange a 2012 ticket stub from a Red Sox game for a 48-page commemorative magazine the Hall of Fame put together as a salute to Fenway’s first hundred years.
Still, it is hard to top the memorabilia on display. In addition to Fisk’s bat, you will find the bat used by Babe Ruth as a Red Sox player in 1918 and 1919, the first two years he led the major leagues in home runs. On a more delicate subject, you will see the transfer agreement sending Ruth to the Yankees in December 1919. The bat Carl Yastrzemski used to collect his 3,000th hit in 1979 is on view, near the jersey Ted Williams wore on his final homestand in 1960. There is also Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, worn by the injured pitcher during the magical 2004 run to the Sox’ first World Series championship in 86 years.
Photos show an early version of the left-field wall long before it was painted green in 1947. There are also images of two noted landmarks, the red seat that signifies where the ball landed from Williams’s longest home run (502 feet), and the Pesky Pole, the right-field foul-line pole named for fan favorite Johnny Pesky.
A ticket stub from a Bruce Springsteen concert and the gloves worn by Bobby Orr to drop the puck at the first outdoor hockey game at Fenway show that the multifaceted venue is thriving in its golden years, ready to entertain the next generation of Red Sox fans.
National Baseball Hall of Fame25 Main St., Cooperstown, N.Y. 888-HALL-OF-FAME, baseball
hall.org. Tickets: $19.50 age 13 and over, $12 age 65 and over, $7.25 ages 7 to 12. Carlton Fisk is one of the former major leaguers signed up to play in the annual Hall of Fame Classic June 16.
Stephen Jermanok can be reached at www.activetravels