Fri Apr 02 10:48am EDT
Most baseball fans know about Carlton Fisk's iconic home run that won Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
They also might know about Bernie Carbo, who hit a homer that made Fisk's possible.
He's the guy behind the guy.
With the Red Sox four outs from elimination, Carbo kept Boston's hopes alive by stroking a pinch-hit, score-tying, three-run homer into the center-field bleachers at Fenway Park.
Fisk then did his thing in the 12th, waving the ball fair to end one of the greatest World Series games ever played. It sent New England into bedlam — until the Cincinnati Reds came back to win Game 7.
Here's video of Carbo's also-classic homer (and, a little later, Fisk's).
Also not as widely known, Bernie was apparently HIGH AS A KITE when he connected against right-hander Rawly Eastwick. That not-so-little tidbit was revealed in a terrific feature by the Boston Globe's Stan Grossfeld earlier this week. In that feature, Carbo opens up about a moment in his life that should have given him an all-time natural high. Only, thanks to chemicals, he was already there.
"I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four beers, got to the ballpark, took some [amphetamines], took a pain pill, drank a cup of coffee, chewed some tobacco, had a cigarette, and got up to the plate and hit,'' Carbo said.
"I played every game high,'' Carbo said. "I was addicted to anything you could possibly be addicted to. I played the outfield sometimes where it looked like the stars were falling from the sky."
He played high every game. Of his career. Carbo says that when he was a rookie with the Reds in 1970, one of the team's trainers introduced him to amphetamines. For Carbo, these "vitamins" were a gateway drug to, oh, just about every other kind of substance, illegal and otherwise, one could ingest.
Carbo placed second in NL Rookie of the Year, thinking everything was cool with his life. (The above photo, of Carbo sliding past catcher Elrod Hendricks during the '70 World Series, is a subscription card from Sports Illustrated.)
So, we have yet another cautionary tale for those who think major leaguers in the good ol' days used to play a cleaner brand of baseball than today's PED generation. Not that Carbo's life is an advertisement declaring illegal drugs to be good for you. Carbo was out of baseball by age 33, his potential unfulfilled after 12 seasons.
"I threw away my career," said Carbo, now 62. "If I knew Jesus Christ was my savior at 17, I would have been one heck of a ballplayer, a near Hall of Famer. Instead, I wanted to die."
On the verge of killing himself, Carbo received help from collegues such as Bill "Spaceman" Lee, who saw his friend into drug and alcohol rehab, along with counseling for horrific abuses he suffered as a child.
In 1993, Carbo founded the Diamond Club Ministry, an evangelical Christian organization that preaches a different kind of lifestyle than the one he lived in the '70s.
Carbo says he hasn't touched alcohol or drugs in 15 years. Good for him.