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Bernie Carbo’s 1975 World Series

October 29, 2015


Bernie Carbo glided into the major leagues as The Sporting News’ Rookie of the Year, drafted by the Cincinnati Reds ahead of Johnny Bench in 1965.  But after ten years, his career had devolved into that of a journeyman hitter, his days of spectacle long past.  The 28-year old still found himself part of the Boston Red Sox squad that ended up playing the Reds in the 1975 World Series.

Carbo struck a pinch-hit home run in Boston’s 6-5 loss to Cincinnati in Game 3.  He unexpectedly ended up at the plate again in Game 6, with the Sox trailing 6-3 and the Reds only 4 outs away from clinching their first World Series title since 1940.

Boston put two men on base with two out in the 8th inning.  Carbo stepped into the batter’s box at the last moment, still expecting Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson to bring Juan Beniquez to the plate as the tying run.  But Johnson chose Carbo to take his chance against steamrolling Reds pitcher Rawly Eastwick.

Eastwick quickly pushed Carbo into a hole, and the Sox outfielder nearly struck out on a swing described in Sports Illustrated as having “all the athletic grace of a suburbanite raking leaves.”  Shockingly, Carbo went yard on the very next pitch, sending Fenway Park fans into delirium.

Carbo’s 3-run blast tied the game, and it stayed deadlocked until Carton Fisk’s legendary home run off the foul pole won it for the Red Sox in the 12th inning.  Boston went on to lose Game 7 to Cincinnati, marking another indignity in the long-running cursed Sox championship history, a mark deepened by Bill Buckner’s error in 1986, but finally erased in 2004.

The homer was a personal highlight for Carbo, who would later delve deep into drug abuse in the ’80s, before turning his life around after his retirement.   But on October 21, 1975, he played a key role in what many baseball historians still list as the greatest game the sport’s ever seen.


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