I’m not sure I will ever get use to social media. I use a cell phone, I email, but I think that’s about it of any recent means of communication. I’ve heard the good and bad about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else is out there, but aside from having to use Twitter just a little for one of my jobs, I am less than interested. I realize I am missing out on some things, but the world already moves too fast for me.
I’m not sure if you are laughing, laughing so hard you’re crying or what right now, but take a second to realize the guy writing this piece grew up in this area before the first television set was in anyone’s home. I have seen enough already. Oh…. I forget to tell you about the drone outside my hotel window one morning at 6 a.m. on my summer vacation. It had a blinking camera looking inside.
There was a legend sighting in our area last week. And social media broke the story.
One of the greatest – aw shucks, I think I should say the greatest athlete who ever grew up in these parts – paid a visit to a local restaurant. I must say he has great taste.
Carlton Fisk ate at Diamond Pizza in Walpole, N.H. My guess is, before he was ten minutes up or down the road after leaving the restaurant, hundreds of people knew he had been there. I know one person contacted me almost immediately, and they lived 90 minutes away. Within the next 24 hours, a number of other people told me about the visit. They had all seen it posted on social media.
I spoke to an eyewitness and they told me, “Business was slow at the time. It was shortly before the restaurant closed. I certainly had heard of him before, but I had never seen him. It was exciting.”
The eyewitness also told me “Some boys knew who he was right away, and they were excited about seeing him.”
Fisk was very congenial, signing autographs, posing for pictures, and pleasing those present.
Many readers knew Fisk. He stood out in just about every sport he attempted. For those who never met him, believe me, he was a great athlete.
I fell very short on predicting Fisk’s future. I recognized his abilities, but could a boy from Charlestown, N.H. make it big in the sport? Could he become an every day player on a professional baseball team? Of course not. No one from here could ever do that. He might play some in the big leagues, but someone from here become a star?
Then he did.
In my opinion, what made Fisk so darn great was the way he attacked any challenge that faced him. His father, Cecil, had the same toughness, but I think Carlton took the trait to the highest level possible.
He was a tremendous athletic specimen who had the most determined focused disciplined approach to get his job done. Some people have said my way or the highway; Carlton said my way or no way.
Many people, even friends and relatives, have called him stubborn and labeled him many different things. The truth is, the determined focus Fisk portrayed, was his ticket to the Hall of Fame and entered his name into the discussion of the Greatest Red Sox players who ever lived.
One of his family members approached me at one time, frustrated by Pudge’s unwillingness to do a task they thought simply needed to be done within the family. They were frustrated because the task was important and looked to them on the surface easy to be instrumented. I agreed with them except the competitive spirit and focus, which made this man achieve at an extraordinary level, was who he was and prevented him from carrying out the task. The greatest he achieved in sports and his life had come about through his focus, determination, and drive and that could not be altered for this occasion. Yes, he could be stubborn, but this was a big part of his make up. You cheered him on and supported his approach, which brought results. He is applying the same approach to the situation at hand.
Several persons have hit me with “I yelled to Pudge at the ballpark and he ignored me.” Others spoke about how friendly and gracious he was. I have experienced both sides, and I understand. Again, this was his focus and his make up.
Once I brought up a very controversial subject to Fisk, and we had a short discussion. I was convinced I knew the inside story of what had taken place. Carlton told me I was wrong and that he was wrong about the situation. He may have been wrong, but I am still convinced to this day that although he stood up and took full responsibility for the situation, there was another side of the story.
Then I love it when I speak to former teammates who tell their Fisk stories. Earlier this baseball season, a former White Sox teammate told me his reaction to Fisk’s interaction with another Hall of Famer. The other Hall member happens to be his onetime manager, Tony LaRussa. Tony was a lawyer before he became a manager, and those who knew Fisk, know he has always had the makings of being a lawyer. Game and focus on.
The White Sox teammate told me, “We loved it when they challenged each other. It was always great to watch.”
Red Sox fans of Fisk’s era have to remember Carlton walking slowly to the mound with his mask sitting on top of his head to send a message to whoever was pitching for the Red Sox that day. Wouldn’t it have been great to have the boom mikes of today, eavesdropping on a Bill Lee-Carlton Fisk conversation?
Fisk returns to New England several times a year but has spent the majority of his recent years in the Chicago area and Florida. Shortly after he finished his career, I was hoping he would choose to manage. I think he would have been a great one. However, the game has changed so much. His perceived style would likely not fit today’s game.
Whether Fisk will be seen in the area again is up for debate. However, if anyone was hoping to guess where he might go to eat, a restaurant with diamond in its title might have been a good guess. That is where he chose last Wednesday to sit behind the plate and catch a good meal.