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Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk

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Carlton Fisk retired having played in more games and hit more home runs than any other catcher before him. A baseball superstar in the 1970s and 80s, Fisk was known not just for his dedication to the sport and tremendous plays but for the respect with which he treated the game. A homegrown icon, Fisk rapidly became the face of one of the most storied teams in baseball, the Carlton Fisk retired having played in more games and hit more home runs than any other catcher before him. A baseball superstar in the 1970s and 80s, Fisk was known not just for his dedication to the sport and tremendous plays but for the respect with which he treated the game. A homegrown icon, Fisk rapidly became the face of one of the most storied teams in baseball, the Boston Red Sox of the 1970s. As a rookie making only $12,000 a year, he became the first player to unanimously win the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1972, upping both his pay grade and national recognition. Fisk's game-winning home run in Game Six of the hotly-contested 1975 World Series forever immortalized him in one of the sport's most exciting televised moments. Fisk played through an epic period of player-owner relations, including the dawn of free agency, strikes, and collusions. After leaving Boston under controversy in 1981, he joined the Chicago White Sox, where he played for 12 more major league seasons, solidifying his position as one of the best catchers of all time. Doug Wilson, finalist for both the Casey Award and Seymour Medal for his previous baseball biographies, uses his own extensive research and interviews with childhood friends and major league teammates to examine the life and career of a leader who followed a strict code and played with fierce determination.


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Carlton Fisk retired having played in more games and hit more home runs than any other catcher before him. A baseball superstar in the 1970s and 80s, Fisk was known not just for his dedication to the sport and tremendous plays but for the respect with which he treated the game. A homegrown icon, Fisk rapidly became the face of one of the most storied teams in baseball, the Carlton Fisk retired having played in more games and hit more home runs than any other catcher before him. A baseball superstar in the 1970s and 80s, Fisk was known not just for his dedication to the sport and tremendous plays but for the respect with which he treated the game. A homegrown icon, Fisk rapidly became the face of one of the most storied teams in baseball, the Boston Red Sox of the 1970s. As a rookie making only $12,000 a year, he became the first player to unanimously win the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1972, upping both his pay grade and national recognition. Fisk's game-winning home run in Game Six of the hotly-contested 1975 World Series forever immortalized him in one of the sport's most exciting televised moments. Fisk played through an epic period of player-owner relations, including the dawn of free agency, strikes, and collusions. After leaving Boston under controversy in 1981, he joined the Chicago White Sox, where he played for 12 more major league seasons, solidifying his position as one of the best catchers of all time. Doug Wilson, finalist for both the Casey Award and Seymour Medal for his previous baseball biographies, uses his own extensive research and interviews with childhood friends and major league teammates to examine the life and career of a leader who followed a strict code and played with fierce determination.

30 review for Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    As life with no live baseball games moves into its second month, I have been grateful for the chats in the baseball book club here on goodreads. I am admittedly one of the younger members of the group so I get to learn a wealth of baseball history on a daily basis. With almost nothing still open, most of us have nothing but time to spend sharing our baseball experiences. One of our members is a baseball biographer, and when I knew that my library would be closed for the foreseeable future, I pol As life with no live baseball games moves into its second month, I have been grateful for the chats in the baseball book club here on goodreads. I am admittedly one of the younger members of the group so I get to learn a wealth of baseball history on a daily basis. With almost nothing still open, most of us have nothing but time to spend sharing our baseball experiences. One of our members is a baseball biographer, and when I knew that my library would be closed for the foreseeable future, I politely asked him if he had any extra copies of his books to share with me. Having already read his biographies on Ernie Banks and Brooks Robinson, I was excited when Doug Wilson sent me a copy of his biography of Carlton Fisk. I know that Wilson does a thorough job in detailing the life of baseball hall of famers, so I knew that I would be in for a treat reading his book on Pudge, hall of fame catcher. Carlton Fisk was born on December 26, 1947, the second son of Cecil and Leona Fisk of Charlestown, New Hampshire. The Fisks are descended from generations of New England denizens, most of which stayed in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In Charlestown, the Fisk house was the center of small town life. Even though Carlton was a large, gangly kid, as an infant, he gained the nickname Pudge, and the moniker has remained with him for life. Carlton and his older brother Calvin were both gifted athletes in basketball and baseball, and there was always a game going somewhere on their property. Their mother Leona always had a snack waiting for the kids after school, so the Fisk home was a preferred destination, even though Cecil ruled the home life with an iron fist. In doing so, he raised his six children in the New England Puritan tradition, with giving one’s all in athletics being an offshoot of his value system. Yet, having a short season to train for outdoor sports, put Fisk at a disadvantage to southerners who rarely dealt with rain or snow. To make it to the major leagues, Fisk would face long odds, yet he was one of the best athletes to come out of New Hampshire, and, just as Boston teams represent all of New England, so did Fisk. With a Puritan, religious upbringing, there is no dirt to dig up on Carlton Fisk. He was an upstanding citizen who beat the odds and joined the Boston Red Sox at a time when the team had a quality nucleus of young stars including Fred Lynn and Jim Rice plus senior statesman Carl Yastrzemski. At the same time, the rival New York Yankees were finding their mojo after an irrelevant decade out of the spotlight, leading to the late 1970s being an era when their rivalry was rekindled. Fisk being the captain and catcher of the Red Sox and Thurman Munson as captain and catcher of the Yankees enjoyed a personal rivalry that epitomized how their teams played. Being born too late to enjoy these head to head matchups, Wilson brought the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry to life. All the plays at the plate, fights, and 1978 Bucky Dent game are all described on these pages, and, depending if one favors Fisk or Munson more, both players had their merits and faults when it came to leading their teams. Sadly, when Munson died in a plane crash, the Red Sox were beginning to decline as a team, putting the heated rivalry on hiatus for another quarter century. Through it all, Fisk embodied Red Sox as a New Englander; if he made it to the big leagues, so could other New England boys. The book begins and ends with Fisk’s classic home run in game six of the 1975 World Series with him willing the ball fair. The camera operator chose to focus on Fisk rather than the ball in flight, changing the way how magical sports moments on television were filmed. Even though the Red Sox lost to the Reds in 1975, due to Fisk’s home run, New Englanders will say that the Red Sox won the World Series three games to four. Unfortunately, Fisk was under appreciated as a durable catcher by Red Sox management. The team only believed in one year contracts, and Fisk along with teammate Lynn became symbols for players unappreciative of escalating player salaries. With the abolishment of the reserve clause in 1976, Fisk became a free agent following the 1979, which lead the native New Englander to sign with the Chicago White Sox and lead that team for the duration of his career. It is this Fisk that I remember growing up in Chicagoland. Although I am a Cubs fan through and through, I remember Fisk standing out on the White Sox as their top player and team leader through the 1980s. Both the Cubs and White Sox managed to win a few division titles during the decade but for the most part fielded teams that finished well out of the lead, so top players and personalities stood out. By the time Fisk joined the White Sox, he had been in the major leagues for over ten years and was well established as the top catcher in the American League, rivaling only Johnny Bench as top catcher in baseball during the 1970s. Fisk quickly gained a reputation as a catcher who adroitly managed a pitching staff and remained a top catcher into his late thirties, at an age when most catchers are each retiring or becoming a designated hitter or first baseman. Yet, Pudge Fisk kept hitting home runs, and, the White Sox tried for years to replace him but to no avail. By the time Fisk left the game in 1993, he had caught the most games in major league history with statistics to back up his place as one of baseball’s elder statesman. Today Fisk and his wife Linda enjoy a retired life in Florida. He is a member of baseball’s hall of fame, having been elected in 2000. After dividing his career between the Red Sox and White Sox almost equally, it is almost as though Fisk enjoyed two separate careers. His iconic home run in 1975 as well as leading the White Sox to the playoffs in 1983 stand out as highlights of a long, illustrious career. It is the Puritan work ethic instilled by his parents at a young age that allowed Fisk to play for as long as he did. As always, Doug Wilson has written a thorough account of a deserving, hall of fame player. I look forward to what books he has in store for his readers next. 4 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    Great read. Full review will be posted on publication day

  3. 4 out of 5

    Harold Kasselman

    It begins and ends with the same transformative moment; not only for Pudge, but also the sport for which he dedicated his life. That iconic moment of game six of the 1975 World Series when Red Sox fans would come so close to bliss but fall one game shy. That legendary camera shot that would garner an Emmy for the cameraman and change the way games would forever be covered has never faded from memory. Carlton Fisk jumping and hopping sideways towards first base and flailing his arms to keep the b It begins and ends with the same transformative moment; not only for Pudge, but also the sport for which he dedicated his life. That iconic moment of game six of the 1975 World Series when Red Sox fans would come so close to bliss but fall one game shy. That legendary camera shot that would garner an Emmy for the cameraman and change the way games would forever be covered has never faded from memory. Carlton Fisk jumping and hopping sideways towards first base and flailing his arms to keep the ball fair. It's been forty years and so much has changed in the game; perhaps in part because of that home run and the unprecedented television audience and interest in the game. In this fascinating biography the reader comes as close as perhaps anyone can come to understand what made Carlton Fisk a Hall OF Famer and one of the greatest catchers of all time during a twenty four year career. The son of a demanding stoic New Englander from the independent breed of New Hampshire residents, Carlton inherited his father's quest for perfection, blue collar work habits, and an adherence to a principled and accountable life style. As Wilson suggests, neither he or his father would have countenanced trophies for little leaguers who merely showed up for the games. He was in Wilson's perception, John Wayne and Calvin Coolidge combined. And competition was in his DNA. Likely it was so because he needed praise from his dad even in his late adulthood. He admitted as much at his Hall of Fame induction. Carlton Fisk would not back down from a fight, a runner barreling into him from third base, or a matter of principle. He was the epitome of old school at a time when players were demanding to re-negotiate contracts. He disdained "bling" baseball players(Deion Sander) or anyone else who disrespected the game by flaunting or not giving 100% all of the time. And he didn't care if he alienated another player, a manager or ownership if they didn't play by the rules and by his standard of excellence. Here was a guy that rehabilitated a grossly torn up knee in 1974 by himself. Then imagine a player over 40 lifting weights until 1:00 A.M. after a game so that his body could endure twenty four years in a crouched position.( he won a silver slugger award at age 37 by virtue of his dedication to excellence and his physical well-being.) Carlton "Pudge" Fisk played more games at his position than any man in history and when you read this captivating biography you will understand why he was able to do it. And you will marvel at just how underappreciated, undervalued, and exploited the man was by both Red Sox and White Sox ownership. Wilson does not portray Fisk as blameless. He could be difficult, blunt, stubborn, and fiercely independent, but he was accountable and dedicated to his team and his craft. In full disclosure, I received this advanced copy from the publisher. Nevertheless, I simply can't say enough good things to depict how good of a biography it really is. The chapter about the 1975 World Series was exciting and vivid and I had seen it in real time. The animosity, okay hatred, between the Sox and Yankees during those years is covered. The famous brawls at the plate with Munson, and the Pinella- Michaels- Rivers- Bill Lee and Graig Nettles bout is also brought to life during the Red Sox years. The White Sox years, where Fisk helped build a division winner, made for great reading and fun. Those were happy years, and despite never having made a close friend in either clubhouse, they were fruitful times for Fisk. As for the writing style, it's smart, humorous, and poignant-especially the final chapter. I came away with the distinct impression that the author Doug Wilson deeply admired his subject. After reading and loving this account, I too came away with a deep admiration for Fisk and Doug Wilson.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Lucander

    This is a wonderful book, and a deceptively fast read. Bias alert: I'm a native New Englander and lifelong Red Sox fan. Yes, I loved this book. Fisk represents the kind of New England grit that characterizes the best of this region, it's hard NOT to like this bio. The prose is awesome, and the writing is a nice mix of regional history/insider anecdotes/and basic sports history. I liked this more than Ortiz's memoir and both Ted Williams biographies. A must read for any sports fan from the upper This is a wonderful book, and a deceptively fast read. Bias alert: I'm a native New Englander and lifelong Red Sox fan. Yes, I loved this book. Fisk represents the kind of New England grit that characterizes the best of this region, it's hard NOT to like this bio. The prose is awesome, and the writing is a nice mix of regional history/insider anecdotes/and basic sports history. I liked this more than Ortiz's memoir and both Ted Williams biographies. A must read for any sports fan from the upper right, and a great gift for opening day (it's coming soon). I was born in 1980, reading this made me feel like I was reliving a lot of my dad's memories - that makes it a good book for fans from just about any generation. Doug Wilson is such an engaging sportswriter that I just bought his biography of Brooks Robinson and can't wait to read it this summer.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Mitchell

    Carlton Fisk was baseball's preeminent catcher over his 25-year career, was honored as an All-Star 11 times, and entered the Hall of Fame on tCarlton Fisk was baseball's preeminent catcher over his 25-year career, was honored as an All-Star 11 times and entered the Hall of Fame on the second ballot. Wilson's biography is in standard chronological order, beginning with a brief history of Fisk's ancestors, proceeding through Fisk's childhood in Charlestown, New Hampshire, and then provides an almos Carlton Fisk was baseball's preeminent catcher over his 25-year career, was honored as an All-Star 11 times, and entered the Hall of Fame on tCarlton Fisk was baseball's preeminent catcher over his 25-year career, was honored as an All-Star 11 times and entered the Hall of Fame on the second ballot. Wilson's biography is in standard chronological order, beginning with a brief history of Fisk's ancestors, proceeding through Fisk's childhood in Charlestown, New Hampshire, and then provides an almost season-by-season account of Fisk's professional career. There is a brief concluding section that covers Fisk's life after baseball. Wilson portrays Fisk as the quintessential New Englander; rugged, hard-working, self-sufficient, and stoic. However, the entire story, successful as Fisk was, is tinged with sadness. Fisk's relationships with the management and ownership of the Red Sox and White Sox (the two teams for which he played) were strained to the point of bitterness, particularly around issues of compensation. And, he resented the way in which he was summarily released, on a road trip, by the White Sox at the end of his career. Though Fisk appears to have strong family relationships, he is quoted as saying that he "will never forgive the game for what I lost with my children." Wilson emphasizes Fisk's work ethic throughout the book. Fisk was one of the first players to commit to serious weight training at the age of 37. Wilson credits Fisk's commitment to strength training for helping Fisk to recover from a severe oblique strain and, ultimately, for allowing him to play for eight more years. Fisk was often one of the last to leave the ballpark, lifting weights after games when other players had long since departed for evening entertainment. Earlier in his career, Fisk had to recover from some gruesome injuries, including a knee injury during the 1974 All-Star game, a parallel to the injury Ray Fosse sustained when blocking the plate in the 1970 All-Star game. Wilson also highlight's Fisk's participation in some of the pivotal moments in baseball's labor negotiations. Fisk was one of the first players to hire an agent, and one of the first to test the waters of free agency. Later, he was one of the players to take an active role in fighting against the collusion scandals of the late 1980s. Fisk, due to the time at which he played and the length of his career, was the rare player who experienced both the reserve clause and the modern system of contract negotiation. Fisk is famously private, and Wilson wrote his biography without the benefit of direct interaction with Fisk himself. Though Wilson has done excellent research, and though he spoke with friends and relatives of Fisk, it's hard to feel that Fisk is fully human without hearing more of his voice. Wilson gives his reader a comprehensive view of the public Fisk, but the private Carlton eludes him. But, for those interested in those who have achieved greatness, or for fans with an interest in baseball of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the book will prove satisfying.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tom Gase

    Another good bio baseball book by Doug Wilson, who wrote very good books on Brooks Robinson and The Bird. This one I liked the least, but only because the other two were so great. This book on Carlton "Pudge" Fisk is well researched and written well. Talks equally about his days in Boston playing for the Red Sox and also his days in the 1980's playing for the Chicago White Sox. Info on the White Sox I didn't know much about, so that was interesting. So were the portions of the book dedicated to Another good bio baseball book by Doug Wilson, who wrote very good books on Brooks Robinson and The Bird. This one I liked the least, but only because the other two were so great. This book on Carlton "Pudge" Fisk is well researched and written well. Talks equally about his days in Boston playing for the Red Sox and also his days in the 1980's playing for the Chicago White Sox. Info on the White Sox I didn't know much about, so that was interesting. So were the portions of the book dedicated to Fisk and Thurman Munson of the Yankees. Heartbreaking in a way when Munson died, you realized later, especially in the section on Deion Sanders, that the two were actually very much alike and probably would have ended up being friends later on. How Wilson ends the book with the portion talking about "Good Will Hunting" was also well done. Good stuff again by Wilson, can't wait to read his next one. Red Sox and White Sox fans should read this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marie E. Bubelenyi

    The greatest catcher ever to strap on the gear Carlton Fisk has been my favorite baseball player since I first fell in love with the game and with the Chicago White Sox. I loved the way he hit, the way he handled pitchers, and his commanding presence on the field. (He was also quite good looking.) This book captures the essence of that commanding, dedicated, and devoted player I remember so well. It gave me an insight into his life before the White Sox and helped me relive some of his greatest mo The greatest catcher ever to strap on the gear Carlton Fisk has been my favorite baseball player since I first fell in love with the game and with the Chicago White Sox. I loved the way he hit, the way he handled pitchers, and his commanding presence on the field. (He was also quite good looking.) This book captures the essence of that commanding, dedicated, and devoted player I remember so well. It gave me an insight into his life before the White Sox and helped me relive some of his greatest moments with the White Sox, several of which I was able to see first hand. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Mr. Fisk, of either Sox team, or of baseball in general.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Peter Murray

    This is the story of one of my all time favorite Red Sox, Carlton Pudge Fisk and what it took for him to survive in the majors during a time when the game was changing. We follow Pudge from his earliest days of playing High School Basketball and Baseball in New Hampshire and Vermont. We read his struggles with the minors and how he made the show and later his struggles keeping on the Roster. It is an interesting look into the life of a Catcher and how he built a Hall Of Fame resume.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Isaac

    The book Pudge by Doug Wilson, was definitely a great read if you are into sports genres in general. It is Carlton Fisk's life story and how he became a baseball sensation. Originally wanting to be a basketball player averaging 14 rebounds a game to hitting 376 career home runs with an average of 398ft. This book is hard to get into but once you do, you will be submerged into his problems with contracts to his great success in the great game of baseball. The book Pudge by Doug Wilson, was definitely a great read if you are into sports genres in general. It is Carlton Fisk's life story and how he became a baseball sensation. Originally wanting to be a basketball player averaging 14 rebounds a game to hitting 376 career home runs with an average of 398ft. This book is hard to get into but once you do, you will be submerged into his problems with contracts to his great success in the great game of baseball.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    A well written feel good biography of an historic player playing thru the transformative era of modern baseball. The most interesting aspect of the book for me is how labor unrest affected Carlton’s choices and attitudes toward his former employers. The quotes and perspectives of many former players and one umpire added significant depth to this biography.

  11. 4 out of 5

    George Khoury

    Very enjoyable book for baseball fans! Author Doug Wilson does a fantastic job covering the playing career of Carlton Fisk and the era of baseball that the legendary catcher played in. If you're looking for gossip and juicy "off the field" chatter, this isn't the book for you. But if you're searching for a good read about one of baseball's most formidable players that celebrates not only his conviction but the greatness of the sport... Well, this is the book for you. Very enjoyable book for baseball fans! Author Doug Wilson does a fantastic job covering the playing career of Carlton Fisk and the era of baseball that the legendary catcher played in. If you're looking for gossip and juicy "off the field" chatter, this isn't the book for you. But if you're searching for a good read about one of baseball's most formidable players that celebrates not only his conviction but the greatness of the sport... Well, this is the book for you.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I am a fan of Doug Wilson writings so I like this book especially the chapter on the 1975 World Series and how the camera caught Pudge's reaction to his home run. The only problem I had with the book was the lack of interviews with Pudge but he doesn't do interviews. I won this book on Goodreads. I am a fan of Doug Wilson writings so I like this book especially the chapter on the 1975 World Series and how the camera caught Pudge's reaction to his home run. The only problem I had with the book was the lack of interviews with Pudge but he doesn't do interviews. I won this book on Goodreads.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Hanson

    Enjoyable read of baseball's greatest catcher and one of my favorite players. I learned a lot that I didn't know about the man and his career. Enjoyable read of baseball's greatest catcher and one of my favorite players. I learned a lot that I didn't know about the man and his career.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Really well-written with the added benefit of adding the local flavor of the teams that Fisk played with. I learned a lot from this book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mike Marino

    Great book. I’ve always been a baseball fan but it was still nice to read about someone I didn’t know much about

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brian Andrewsone

    I used to go to old Comiskey park on the south side of Chicago. Old number 72 was an icon, a leader a mainstay. This book did him justice and is for sports fans in general, especially redsox and whitesox fans this is a must read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Budd Bailey

    They don't make 'em like Carlton Fisk any more. The Hall of Famer was, as that description implies, the greatest of his generation at the baseball position of catcher. He holds several records in the sport for durability and longevity, as he played into his 40s at a position in which one's knees are supposedly done by 35 or so. Old-fashioned hard work throughout his life gets much of the credit, although the individual doing that work is just as special. Fisk was always one of those strong, silent They don't make 'em like Carlton Fisk any more. The Hall of Famer was, as that description implies, the greatest of his generation at the baseball position of catcher. He holds several records in the sport for durability and longevity, as he played into his 40s at a position in which one's knees are supposedly done by 35 or so. Old-fashioned hard work throughout his life gets much of the credit, although the individual doing that work is just as special. Fisk was always one of those strong, silent types out of rural New England, where bragging wasn't done or appreciated. It's tough to imagine him sitting down for long periods of time to write an autobiography. So it's up to someone else to fill in the gaps of describing Fisk. Doug Wilson took on the job when he wrote "Pudge" The author of a few other baseball books comes through with a thorough job of reviewing an eventful life. Fisk's baseball story is an unlikely one for a couple of big reasons. The first is that he grew up in Charlestown, New Hampshire. That's located right on the Connecticut River on the eastern edge of the state, south of Hanover (home of Dartmouth). The winters can be long there and the springs slow in arriving, so you can imagine just how many baseball prospects come out of that region. Somehow, Fisk beat the odds. Adding to the joy that Charlestown felt about sending one of its native sons to the majors was that Fisk landed in Boston to play for the Red Sox, New England's team. Could there have been a better pairing for all concerned? It didn't take Fisk long to be considered the greatest catcher in Red Sox history, proving to be a good fit with other 1970s stars on that team like Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, and Fred Lynn. He developed a good rivalry with fellow catcher Thurman Munson of the Yankees along the way. Catchers take a pounding in baseball sometimes, which is reason number two why this is an unlikely story. Fisk suffered a very serious knee injury relatively early in his long career, and there was some doubt about whether he'd ever play again at anything close to the previous level. The catcher did the work, and recovered to play at his previous levels for many more years. What's more, Fisk took part in two of the iconic baseball moments of the 1970's. He was the central figure in one of them, a game-ending home run in Game Six of the 1975 World Series - finishing what is still considered one of the greatest games ever played. In another, he and the Red Sox fell to the Yankees in the 1978 playoff game that capped an era of intense rivalry between those teams. Both are well covered here, as you might expect. Fisk was also part of a turbulent and somewhat forgotten about era in baseball in which the game's financial structure was blown up and rebuilt. Salaries exploded and Fisk was involved in an odd series of events - too complex to discuss here but nicely examined in the book - that led to him being declared a free agent and poisoning the relationship between the catcher and the Red Sox. Fisk landed with the White Sox, and became the face of the franchise for most of the 1980s. Wilson doesn't have as much material here, as Chicago only won one division title during the catcher's time wearing #72 (he flipped his old number, 27, around after changing teams). The ending of Fisk's tenure as a White Sox player was awkward as well. That's not unusual, as it's always tough to know when a veteran athlete is done or merely in a slump - particularly an athlete as proud as Fisk. Wilson talked to a long list of Fisk's teammates and associates here. Occasionally the material feels a little repetitive, but sometimes that research pulls out a little gem. I loved the story about someone climbing up the stairs to the top of a church in Charlestown right after Fisk's World Series home. A policeman arrived to find out what the fuss was about. When told about the homer, he answered: "Hell, if I'd known that, I'd have come and helped you." The biggest drawback might be a slight hole in the middle of the story. There are plenty of quotes from Fisk accumulated from his years in the spotlight, but it's tough to know what he's really thinking along the way. No doubt he likes it that way. Even so, "Pudge" works quite well. If you are of age to remember his body of work from the standings, then this should bring back some good memories and fill in some gaps in the narrative.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Call him “a lion in winter.” Call him “an iron man.” But, where in the world did he get the nickname “Pudge?” As biographer Doug Wilson explains it, Carlton Fisk “would never know a time when he was called anything other than Pudge or Pudgy. The exact origin of the name remains a mystery, even to him.” Be that as it may, I didn’t get to watch the Boston Red Sox or the Chicago White Sox that much during Fisk’s playing days. But, I don’t recall the electronic media, at least, referring to the icon Call him “a lion in winter.” Call him “an iron man.” But, where in the world did he get the nickname “Pudge?” As biographer Doug Wilson explains it, Carlton Fisk “would never know a time when he was called anything other than Pudge or Pudgy. The exact origin of the name remains a mystery, even to him.” Be that as it may, I didn’t get to watch the Boston Red Sox or the Chicago White Sox that much during Fisk’s playing days. But, I don’t recall the electronic media, at least, referring to the iconic catcher as anything but Carlton. Thanks to Wilson, that was all new to me. Nor did I know that since his forced retirement from Major League Baseball in 1993, Carlton has become a major orchid grower. Wilson reports, “By 2010 he had (raised) 40 different varieties and more than 300 orchids in total.” Whodathunkit? “One of the toughest baseball players who ever grappled in the dirt around home plate . . . (is now) playing with flowers.” The nickname and the orchids were my two takeaways from this Carlton Fisk biography. Who knew? Well, there was a third news nugget for me. I was totally unaware of the iconic nature of game three of the 1975 World Series, (The Reds’ Ed Armbrister’s controversial collision with Boston’s Fisk after an attempted bunt), and game six of the same series, (Fisk’s dramatic home run in the 12th inning and his reaction to the blast caught on live television.) As Wilson writes, “It became an all-time classic; one of the most memorable and iconic shots in television sports history . . . Forever after, there would be the isolation shot, looking for the reaction of the athlete to what happened.” Wilson’s portrait of Fisk is an important sports bio if for no other reason than it’s a study in contrasts between the MLB player of Fisk’s era and the 21st Century athlete. With the introduction of binding arbitration, reserve clauses, free agency and the rise of sports agents, MLB had forever changed the relationship between team owners and their players. “Salary beefs . . . would become ubiquitous. The more (the players) got, the more they wanted; and the more they wanted, the more fans expected.” Wilson writes, “A lot of the fun left the game of baseball.” Somehow, Fisk apparently rose above all that. According to Wilson, Fisk’s “fierce pride and passion for playing the game of baseball the right way never wavered.” Wilson does a first rate job in capturing the personality of a Hall of Fame catcher who carried the reputation during his 24-year professional career as someone “hard to get to know.” In fact, Wilson writes, “Throughout his career Carlton allowed people to know only what he wanted them to know; now he allowed even less. He rarely gave interviews.” That might explain why Fisk is quoted here primarily from newspaper columns, articles and clippings. I found very little evidence that Wilson had ever talked to Fisk one-on-one for this publication. That could be this sports memoir’s biggest weakness.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Baseball is my favorite sport, and Carlton Fisk is my favorite baseball player. I named my first car Carlton Fisk, and for the seven years I owned it I had a little cardboard pop-up Carlton Fisk affixed to the dashboard. (It was a good thing I decided to buy a bunch of them, as I had to replace the figure each year due to fading from the sun.) I just finished the extremely enjoyable book Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk by Doug Wilson. Although Fisk was not interviewed for the book – particip Baseball is my favorite sport, and Carlton Fisk is my favorite baseball player. I named my first car Carlton Fisk, and for the seven years I owned it I had a little cardboard pop-up Carlton Fisk affixed to the dashboard. (It was a good thing I decided to buy a bunch of them, as I had to replace the figure each year due to fading from the sun.) I just finished the extremely enjoyable book Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk by Doug Wilson. Although Fisk was not interviewed for the book – participating in the writing of his own biography would be too much like bragging for Fisk – it is not a tell all. Or maybe there is no all to tell regarding Fisk. If you are looking for dirt on Carlton Fisk - if there is dirt on Carlton Fisk - don't look here. Pudge is not that book. It is a glowing love letter to New England’s greatest professional baseball player. The author is an unabashed admirer of Fisk, and since I am also, I loved the book. My coworker rolled his eyes when I read this passage outloud: He was a man who undeniably exemplified all the attributes they wanted to believe about themselves as New Englanders: he was tough, independent, and principled. Stoic and in control, he spoke what he believed, said what needed to be said and little else. He was Calvin Coolidge in John Wayne’s body. And his posture: tall, ramrod straight; just hand him a musket and he could pose for a statue of a minuteman, keeping faithful watch to protect the citizens from tyranny, marauders, and even Yankees. (p. 81) Pudge is also not for you if you are looking for a quick look at Fisk’s life and career. The book goes into great detail about Fisk’s years with the Red Sox and the White Sox and especially that famous home run in the 1975 World Series. However, if, like me, you loved watching Fisk play, you admire his work ethic, you think the White Sox mistreated him, and you wish professional sports had more players like Fisk, you will probably enjoy reading Pudge.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    Every Hall of Famer needs a biography and this is the first full length biography of Carlton Fisk. It is a straightforward account of pretty remarkable baseball life. It starts and ends with Fisk's most memorable moment in the sixth game of the 1975 World Series. It is hard to overstate how important that homer was both to Fisk and to baseball. Many consider it the greatest televised sports moment in history because of what it meant and how it changed the way we view sports. Wilson reminds us th Every Hall of Famer needs a biography and this is the first full length biography of Carlton Fisk. It is a straightforward account of pretty remarkable baseball life. It starts and ends with Fisk's most memorable moment in the sixth game of the 1975 World Series. It is hard to overstate how important that homer was both to Fisk and to baseball. Many consider it the greatest televised sports moment in history because of what it meant and how it changed the way we view sports. Wilson reminds us that before Fisk's homer camera men never went for a "reaction shot." They followed the action. But because of some unique aspects to that telecast one camera man was able to stay focused on Fisk bouncing down the first base line waving the ball fair. People loved it for its pure spontaneity and we have had reaction shots ever since (the camera man won an Emmy). But Fisk's career was about more than that homer. The biography reminds you just how good a hitter Fisk was and his solid defense, throwing and ability to call a game. He caught more games and hit more homers than any other catcher. He was a hard working, confident, confrontational, no-nonsense ball player. There are good chapters in this book about the 1978 collapse, the collusion of the owners in 1985 and Fisk's rivalry with Thurmon Munson. For someone like me who grew up loving Fisk and the 1975 Red Sox team, this is must reading.

  21. 5 out of 5

    James Hansee

    Growing up as a Red Sox fan in the 70's and 80's I was really able to connect well to this book. It was a confirming look at the Carlton Fisk that fans remembered, but it also highlighted his family which would be new to many readers. This was an enjoyable read and the author did an excellent job of weaving in quotes and comments into the narrative. Growing up as a Red Sox fan in the 70's and 80's I was really able to connect well to this book. It was a confirming look at the Carlton Fisk that fans remembered, but it also highlighted his family which would be new to many readers. This was an enjoyable read and the author did an excellent job of weaving in quotes and comments into the narrative.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael Brouses

    Informative book detailing the life of Carlton Fisk. I was a fan of him when he was with the White Sox not realizing any of his time with the Red Sox. Was nice to read about his history and his work ethic which you don't see alot of in the current age we are living in. Informative book detailing the life of Carlton Fisk. I was a fan of him when he was with the White Sox not realizing any of his time with the Red Sox. Was nice to read about his history and his work ethic which you don't see alot of in the current age we are living in.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Not just the story of one of the best catchers to play the game. also contains interesting details of the Red Sox, White Sox during his career as well as the changes happening in baseball in the 70's and 80's. Not just the story of one of the best catchers to play the game. also contains interesting details of the Red Sox, White Sox during his career as well as the changes happening in baseball in the 70's and 80's.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jim Blessing

    Excellent book about Carlton Fisk.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sterling

    Great book,learned a lot about Pudge. And the White Sox.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dave

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richard Canale

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pablo

  30. 4 out of 5

    Goyar

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