The Commander Will See You Now

Alright. I have to be honest.

With all due respect, I hate the Chicago White Sox.

It’s not because you guys prevented my beloved Red Sox from repeating as World Series champs in 2005, dismissing us in a quick and painful ALDS. It’s not because of your manager, Ozzie Guillen, the human irritant. It’s not even because I hold a grudge over that whole Black Sox scandal thing.

It’s because of one man.

Carlton Fisk.

I grew up in a Red Sox-loving home, where dinners were “earned” by responding to correctly to Carl Yastrzemski trivia, and a photo of Tony Conigliaro hung next to a photo of Jesus.

And my favorite player, above all, was Carlton Fisk.

I had the shirt. The baseball cards. The poster. Even the puffy hand, which was exceptionally cool since they hadn’t even been invented yet back then. But I had ’em. And I charted the man’s every move and tried–haplessly–to emulate his moves on the Little League diamond. He was the Commander. He was Pudge. He was the guy who took shit from no one, especially no one named Thurman Munson.

Well, we all know how that one turned out. After the 1980 season, management forgot to mail Fisk his contract (yet, tragically, remembered to mail Luis Aponte’s). Fisk, sensing the dis, jumped ship to Chicago for a cool $3.5 million.

As a kid who loved all things Fisk, I was devastated. Watching Fisk come back to Fenway in some of those godawful White Sox unis (including this lovely number-around-the-balls get-up) was bad enough. Seeing him always seem to come up huge against us with a key hit or home run was even more painful. It was like he’d been born again, enjoying some of his best seasons and actually logging more time with the White Sox than the Red Sox.

At least the man had the good sense to enter the Hall of Fame in a Red Sox cap. But in my eyes, the damage was done. I’d been robbed of a chance to watch my childhood hero play out his career with the hometown team. And it leaves a void that just won’t ever be filled, despite my best hooker- and alcohol-fueled efforts.

So please understand that, beginning tonight, I’ll be heartily rooting against you guys.

And, somehow, somewhere, I have a feeling that my man Pudge will be doing the same.


Red is one-half the crew behind the surprisingly tolerable Red Sox-centric Surviving Grady. The World Series celebrations were nice, but you can guess who he still hasn’t forgiven. He lives in Boston.

5 thoughts on “The Commander Will See You Now”

  1. For many years after his playing career, Fisk mentioned that he would rather be inducted with his Little League cap on. It took a lot of sucking up by Red Sox (and White Sox) management to get back in good graces with the Commander.

    The only reason he was inducted with the Red Sox cap on was the home run that came on October 21, 1975. If the camera operator wasn’t distracted by a rat, that iconic moment would have never been seen by anybody except the fans lucky enough to be at the park. Luckily, the rat was able to distract away from the flight of the ball and the rest is history.

  2. Yeah, it always kills me how the enduring image of Fisk is one of him helping the BoSox. But I can’t help put laugh at what they would put on his White Sox plaque: an x-ray of his shot knees, or maybe Hawk moving him to right field, or better yet the press release announcing his outright release after Carlton Fisk Day. Ugh.

  3. i grew up in brockton, mass. rooting for the red sox, and fisk was my favorite player too. after high school, i moved to chicago to study business at depaul and that also happened to be when carlton signed with the white sox. i never became a white sox fan, but i was glad to see carlton able to play with a respectable, winner of a ballclub that wasn’t in year round competition with the red sox. ’83 was a heck of a year for “pudge” and i really thought he was going to get his ring.

    it was pretty shabby how the chi-sox treated fisk at the end, but it looks like they have made up by now. good for carlton, and good for both sox teams to have had such a hard working, hard playing player in common – then, and now too. seeing his statue and image in the outfield at us cellular is a nice reminder of what star athletes can be.

  4. Do we really need to hear from a Red Sox fan? Heck, if you’re going to waste a column, let’s discuss why Paul Sullivan tries to stick up for Soriano when, as a beat reporter covering the White Sox, he never tried to hide the fact he hated the team, the fans, the ballpark, and Frank Thomas.

  5. Fisk couldn’t carry Munson’s jock. Typical pussy SAWX move. Fisk blocks the plate, gets slammed into and then gets pissed about it – shoving the ball in Munson’s face. And then, of course, famously getting his ass kicked.

    My favorite “Fisk Moment” was when he hit that home run in game 6 of the 1975 World Series, giving the Red SAWX their first World Series Win since 1918. What a great moment!!! Oh….wait…never mind.

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