The last time Carlton Fisk was at Fenway Park for Game 6 of the World Series, it was in the wee hours of the morning, as he frantically waved his arms and skipped up the first-base line, just as his home run clanked off the left-field foul pole.
The historic home run gave the Red Sox a 7-6 victory over Cincinnati in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series — which ended in a Game 7 loss the following night.
On Wednesday, Fisk returned to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, donning a fake beard, alongside former teammate Luis Tiant.
The Red Sox’ legendary catcher was thrilled to return to Fenway for Game 6 — a privilege he was deprived of in 2004 and 2007, as Boston swept both St. Louis and Colorado on the road to win the World Series.
“I got left out of the last two,” Fisk joked. “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, OK, 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. The sixth game in ’75.”
The Sox did win Wednesday night, beating the Cardinals, 6-1, to take the title.
The grainy video of Fisk’s home run is canonized in Red Sox history. It flashed on the video board before the start of Game 6 against the Cardinals, and it’s a sight Fisk never gets tired of seeing.
For the 65-year-old former catcher, who was 27 during the 1975 World Series, the video brings back the most nostalgic memories.
“Well, I look at it mechanically first to see what kind of swing it was,” Fisk said. “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 10 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.”
There was an incredible amount of angst when the 1975 and 1986 Red Sox came so close to winning the franchise’s first World Series since 1918. There was also an incredible amount of jubilation when they finally won in 2004 and 2007.
The Red Sox won the crown just one year after finishing worst in the American League East. Fisk was savoring the moment before he threw out the first pitch.
“After ’75 it was, oh, you know, ‘We just missed, so we’ll get them next year or we’ll be back,’ ” Fisk said. “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 Red Sox win again in ’07. And then [last night]. So what a decade for this club.”Anthony Gulizia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @gulizia_a