HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PUDGE!

On this date in 1947, Carlton Fisk was born in Bellow Falls, Vermont.

“Pudge” would go on to have a Hall of Fame career as one of the great catchers in big league history for both the Boston Red Sox (1969, 1971-1980) and the White Sox (1981-1993).

Upon signing as a free agent in March of 1981, Fisk became one of the most popular players in White Sox history and still is to this day despite his pull to his Red Sox roots.

Fisk’s spot in franchise history was cemented in 1997 when his No. 72 was retired, an honor bestowed upon by Sox management despite his frequent battles with them.

Three years later, Fisk deservedly took his spot among the game’s immortals when he was voted into the Hall Fame.

 On May 22, 2008, the White Sox held a “Welcome Back Carlton Fisk Night” at U.S. Cellular Field to recognize Fisk’s return to the organization as an ambassador. It is a post he has held in some form since then.

  
In celebration of his 68th birthday, here are some of Fisk’s White Sox greatest hits:

April 10, 1981: In his White Sox debut and in the stadium he called home for the previous 10 seasons, Fisk launched a dramatic three-run homer in the eighth inning that gave his new Sox the lead for good in a 5-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day at Fenway Park.

 April 14, 1981: In his White Sox home debut, Fisk thrilled an Opening Day crowd of 51,560 with a grand slam in a 9-3 triumph of the Milwaukee Brewers.

 June 15, 1983: A fifth-inning RBI triple fronted the Sox for good in a 5-2 win at Anaheim. The hit came with Fisk starting in the No. 2 spot and ignited a streak which would see him bat .329 the rest of way in leading the White Sox to the A.L. West title.

 May 16, 1984: First inning double, second inning single, fourth inning home run and a seventh inning triple made Fisk just the third White Sox player to hit for the cycle and the first to do it at Comiskey Park. Despite the history, the Sox lost to the Royals 7-6.

 Aug. 2, 1985: Fisk tagged out both Bobby Meacham and Dale Berra on the same play at the plate in the seventh inning of the White Sox 5-3 win at Yankee Stadium. Next to his iconic Game 6 homer in the 1975 World Series, this is Fisk’s most famous play.

 Sept. 25, 1985: Fisk tied Dick Allen’s 1972 franchise record with his 37th home run of the season. The solo shot came off Ron Romanick in a 7-4 loss at California. The dinger was also Fisk’s 33rd while playing catcher, breaking Lance Parrish’s 1982 league record for roundtrippers at the position.

 Aug. 19, 1988: Fisk caught his 1,807th American League game, setting the record in that category. He celebrated the occasion with his first career five-hit game.

 June 21, 1989: Fisk cracked his 307th home run as a catcher, passing the Yankees’ Yogi Berra as the American League’s all-time leader in that department. Fisk accomplished the feat in a 7-3 win at Yankee Stadium.

 July 17, 1989: Fisk collected his 2,000th hit -– a 28 bouncer up the middle -– before an appreciative crowd at Comiskey Park. The milestone came off the Yankees’ Andy Hawkins, the same pitcher he victimized with his record homer about a month earlier in the Bronx.

 May 22, 1990: Fisk scolded and lectured the Yankees’ Deion Sanders on Yankee Pride at homeplate during the Sox 5-2 loss to New York. Fisk’s lecture was apparently over Sanders’ lack of hustle and his lackadaisical demeanor on baseball’s hallowed ground and prompted both benches to clear but no punches were thrown.

 Aug. 17, 1990: With one swing of the bat, Fisk became the most prolific home run-hitting catcher in big league history and the White Sox all-time home run leader. Fisk’s second-inning roundtripper off Charlie Hough in Texas gave him 328 as a catcher and 187 with the White Sox. He eclipsed Johnny Bench’s mark for catchers and Harold Baines’ White Sox record. The historic homer came in the White Sox 4-2 win.

 Sept. 3, 1990: Fisk hit the last of his 87 home runs at the original Comiskey Park in a 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals before 25,236 on the Southside. Fisk finished tied for second all-time in Old Comiskey Park home runs with Harold Baines, one behind leader Bill Melton. Twenty-seven days later, Fisk would start the final game at the old park behind the plate and go 0-for-4.

July 9, 1991: Fisk made his fourth and final All-Star team as a member of the White Sox and his 11th and last overall. … Joined Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench as the only catchers to play in at least 10 All-Star Games (Fisk did not play in the 1974 game because of an injury). … Replaced Sandy Alomar Jr. at catcher in the fifth inning to become the oldest White Sox player, the third-oldest player overall player and the oldest American League position player to play in an All-Star Game … Finished the game behind the plate. … Went 1-for-2. … Singled off Pete Harnisch to center with two out in the sixth to become the oldest player (43 years, seven months, 13 days) to hit safely in an All-Star Game.

Aug. 6, 1991: Fisk hit his 200th home run in a White Sox uniform. The four-bagger came off the Yankees’ Wade Taylor in a 14-5 win at “new” Comiskey Park.

 April 7, 1993: On his first swing of the season, Fisk socked what turned out to be the final home run of his Hall of Fame career. The blast, the 376th of Fisk’s career, came off Jim Deshaies in the third inning of the Sox 6-1 loss at Minnesota.

 June 19, 1993: Fisk notched the 2,356th and last hit of his career – a fifth inning single off Mark Langston in a 5-4 loss at California.

 June 22, 1993: Fisk became the all-time leader by catching his 2,226th game in the Sox 3-2 win over Texas before 36,757 at Comiskey Park. Prior to the game, the White Sox presented Fisk with several gifts, including a special-edition Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a $25,000 donation to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Fisk helped give the Sox the lead with a sacrifice in the fifth that led to a run. After Texas tied the game in the sixth, Lance Johnson drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the ninth. Six days later, the Sox released Fisk

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