Bernie Carbo/Red Sox-Indians Game 5 Chat

October 18, 2007

“Bernie is the only man I know who turned fall into summer with one wave of his magic wand.”
                                                  – Bill Lee

Summers are never the same once your days as a student come to an end, so in a way my last real summer came in 1990, just after I graduated from college. That last summer ended with a thin rice-paper letter from China.

I’d been planning to return to Shanghai to teach and to live with the young woman I’d fallen in love with during a recent semester abroad, but the letter from the woman let me know I’d have to make other plans. She’d met another guy. I’d been working on the college campus maintenance crew to save up money for a ticket to China, and when I got the fractured-English Dear John letter I used the money to meander around Europe instead.

The Red Sox were battling for a playoff berth as I left, and the first time I bought a Herald-Tribune to check on them I read about Tom Brunansky extending summer a little longer by making a spectacular game-winning, division-clinching catch in the very last moment of the regular season. The magic-wand catch made me wonder if this was going to be the year when summer finally lived forever for the Red Sox. But by the second time I checked a Herald-Tribune, which seems in my memory to have been the next day, but which must have been at least a few days later, the Red Sox had already been dumped from the playoffs by the Oakland A’s. Summer was gone for good, and all I could do was wander around until the money ran out.

Another summer may soon be over for the Red Sox, but you never know. They’ve been in worse spots. In 1975, for example, the Red Sox trailed the Cincinnati Reds three games to two and were losing by three runs with two outs in the 8th inning when the man pictured here was sent in to pinch hit. He fell behind in the count, barely fouled off a pitch to stay alive, then drilled a three-run home run over the centerfield fence. Summer was back. Not only that, Carbo ensured that the summer of 1975 was one of those rare seasons that would live forever; as Boston’s native son Jonathan Richman might have put it: “That summer feeling’s gonna haunt you the rest of your life.”

No telling if there’s any summer feeling left in the 2007 Red Sox. But they’ve been told in other years that summer was over and have refused to listen. Even some of the players who weren’t around in 2004 have experience turning sure fall back into summer, chief among those being relative newcomer Josh Beckett, tonight’s starting pitcher, who started the Marlins improbable comeback in the 2003 NLCS by beating the Cubs with his team down three games to one, just like his team is tonight (Game 5 set to start at 8:21 ET on FOX). Though the Indians seem to want to obscure that memory of Beckett’s with a memory more redolent of endings tonight (they have hired Beckett’s ex-girlfriend as their National Anthem singer), I’m hoping Beckett has one more day of sizzling summer in his right arm.


  1. 1.  It’s gonna be an up hill battle for Beckett, but I’m sure he loves/lives for these moments. It’s gonna be fun!

  2. 2.  When I lived in Sweden in 1988-89, I’d go to the Stockholm main library once or twice a week and read the Herald-Tribune linescores. I felt like I needed that information (particularly because the A’s suddenly became a very good team as soon as I left the country), but at the same time, somehow, those linescores made me sad. The lack of information just said to me, “You’re very, very far from home.”

    Sometime around then, they started selling the USA Today in Sweden. It was expensive, and I had very little money, but they had boxscores! So every once in a while, I’d treat myself to a USA Today, and savor those boxscores. I had no clue that one day the Internet would make such things available everywhere instantaneously, but that was my first sign the world was growing smaller.

  3. 3.  –there you go obfuscating and belittling the achievments of Sir Carlton Fisk…

    Is Jacoby Ellsbury ever going to play again?

    Francona seemeth befuddled. Is this a matter best left to the discretion of tribal elders?

  4. 4.  That at bat is so ingrained in my brain whenever it happens now, the Carbo at bat springs into my mind and I wonder if a 3 run jack is going to happen on the next pitch.

  5. 5.  Boston:
    Pedroia 2B
    Youkilis 1B
    Ortiz DH
    Ramirez LF
    Lowell 3B
    Kielty RF
    Varitek C
    Crisp CF
    Lugo SS
    Beckett P

    Sizemore CF
    Cabrera 2B
    Hafner DH
    Martinez C
    Garko 1B
    Peralta SS
    Lofton LF
    Gutierrez RF
    Blake 3B
    Sabathia P

  6. 6.  I missed the 1990 postseason due to Desert Storm. I wound up reading about the A’s beating the Sox in a Sports Illustrated that arrived in November. That was a pretty long summer; temperature-wise, not fun-wise. April90 to Aug90 in Tennessee, Sep90 to Apr91 in Saudi Arabia, April91 to May91 in Tennessee. then June91 to Oct91 in Connecticut. I don’t think that I wore a jacket more than a handful of times in those 18 months. I still haven’t seen Super Bowl XV.

    Anyways, here’s hoping that we see a couple more of these cards and you can break out some pics of Dante Bichette and Mike Lansing next week.

  7. 7.  1 : There’s been some whispers that he’s not in the best of health.

    3 : Yeah, Fisk (and Dewey) have their own personal immortality because of that game (among other things), but I always had a special soft spot for Carbo. And yes, I want to see Ellsbury! He’s not playing tonight because a lefty is on the mound (not that Francona would start him anyway, it seems).

    5 : Thanks for the lineups, Bob. (Thanks also to Bob for sending me the link about Beckett’s girlfriend singing the anthem tonight.)

    6 : Wow, that is a long hot summer.

  8. 8.  Hahahaha, somebody just said Ba-ba-boe on Rick Garcia’s pre-game show. (Locally on Fox L.A.)

  9. 9.  Division realignment, Marge Schott, and 25 years in L.A. have changed my allegiances but I was a diehard Reds fan in my youth. I was 13 years old in 1975 and my family made a trip to Boston during the World Series. I can tell you as someone who refused to take off his Reds cap despite my parents pleading (the maid was giving us dirty looks), I bore much more resentment toward Carbo in game six than Fisk. Partly it was the timing. A three run lead with two outs in the 8th, I thought the series was won. But mostly it was unexpected. I expected guys like Fisk and Evans to do big things. I hadn’t even heard of Bernie Carbo. Sometimes the biggest villans and heroes are the unexpected ones. Long live Ed Armbrister!

  10. 10.  I still haven’t seen Super Bowl XV. from 6

    I had a little of that happen to me in the very early 90’s mainly because I was working/supervising our little crop fields in Mex.

  11. 11.  As much as I hate Fox’s coverage of the playoffs, that little Kevin Millar “cowboy up” segment was the best.

  12. 12.  9 : Carbo almost won rookie of the year for the Reds in ’70.

    11 : I admit it, that Kevin Millar piece got me a little pumped up. Tessie!

  13. 13.  Nice start for the BoSox.

  14. 14.  I thought Josh was contractually obligated to type something after a Youkilis homer.

  15. 15.  I like it that the key to the game, for each team, is winning the game. A little on the nose, perhaps, but you can’t argue with it.

  16. 16.  I hope Josh isn’t superstitious. You gotta think with Beckett going tonight & having the mighty BoSox lineup, they gotta be the favorites to win tonight no? XieFrank machine would come in handy right about now.

  17. 17.  15 I think that the key to the game is being consistent and showing that you can concetrate.

  18. 18.  I think the key to the game is always, play nice fundamental baseball & don’t beat your self.

  19. 19.  That is one mighty long single.

  20. 20.  14 : “I thought Josh was contractually obligated to type something after a Youkilis homer. ”

    I probably would have but the first couple innings were all about shoving dinner in my face.

    19 : That’s the longest single since Robin Ventura’s “Grand Single” for the Mets in ’99 (I think it was ’99).

  21. 21.  Jacobs Field ground rules from the Indians website:

    Fair batted ball that travels over the yellow line on top of the outfield wall (on the fly): HOME RUN.

  22. 22.  20 Schmidt once hit a single that would have been way out of the Astrodome but it hit a speaker.

  23. 23.  When I came in the door, Rosenthal, Buck, and McCarver were only talking about Joe Torre. Now Joe Buck has put Manny Ramirez into the same category as Randy Moss.

  24. 24.  I also flipped over briefly to the South Florida-Rutgers football game. Erin Andrews was interviewing David Wright on the sideline.

    She asked him about Joe Torre.

    Does everything going on in sports have to relate to Joe Torre?

  25. 25.  22 From Wikipedia:

    On June 10, 1974, Schmidt hit what many felt should have been a home run when the ball hit the public address speaker that hung 117 feet above and 329 feet away from home plate at the Astrodome in Houston. The ball hit the speaker, fell to the field, and, by the Astrodome’s ground rules, remained in play. Since Schmidt had already started his slow home-run trot, he was held to a single. (There were runners on first and second when the ball was hit, and they each advanced only one base.) Many experts agree the ball would have traveled in excess of 500 feet.

  26. 26.  25
    Was Joe Torre present at the game?

    Can this be related to Joe Torre?

    I only want to know what happens in this game as it pertains to Joe Torre.

  27. 27.  So what is Coco Crisp’s purpose on the Red Sox?

  28. 28.  26 : Joe Torre was a better hitter than Lugo and Crisp. Check that. He IS a better hitter right now than Lugo and Crisp, even if right at this moment he has had several post-Yankee glasses of wine or is asleep.

  29. 29.  Has everybody heard that Torre was offered a one year contract today and turned it down? That’s what my phone told me while I was at work today.

    Just wanted to get my Torre reference in so I could blend into the scenery.

    I was at the game BEFORE the Brunansky sliding catch game. I remember vividly tracking the Blue Jay score via radio and whispering it to my seatmates.

    I was also in love, with someone I have never gotten over, who I was stupid enough to give the Dear John letter TO.

    Way to place the ball there, Papi.

    And honestly, can we stop with 1986 and 2004 references? Those teams are as dead as Charlemagne.

  30. 30.  Please don’t grunt in my ear, Mr. McCarver.

  31. 31.  The 1-2 pitch to Manny was a ball? Jesus, this guy has a small zone.

  32. 32.  26 On June 19, 1974, Joe Torre hit a homer and went three-for-five as Cardinals beat LA, 4-2, at Dodger Stadium. He watched the Schmidt non-HR from the clubhouse while Tim McCarver jibbered in the corner. OK?

  33. 33.  Josh Beckett looks like a film star, but I can’t think of which one.

    Can SOMEBODY besides these two get a hit, please?

  34. 34.  Oh MERCY that was lookin good.

  35. 35.  Manny Ramirez was running hard?!? Alert the media!

  36. 36.  It’s like the doppelganger of 1995, where the big two were asleep at the switch.

  37. 37.  … and here I am, fair-weather fan in th’ house.

  38. 38.  Sentences I never thought I would type in October-

    “The season may depend on Bobby Kielty.”

  39. 39.  Knowing you’re going to get it, and hitting it, are two different things.

  40. 40.  I admit it, I’ve never heard of Bobby Kielty. I feel shame.

  41. 41.  … and I’ll never hear of him again.

  42. 42.  Remember Angell’s description of Carbo’s swing before the homer-“like a man trying to kill a fly with a polo mallet”?

  43. 43.  40 That’s a shame. He’s a Billy Beane/Theo Epstein/Sabemetric special or at least he was.

  44. 44.  I knew Kielty was a major league outfielder, but he was always one of those guys who I could never remember where he was playing. The type of guy you see when you tune in to a late ESPN game and realize, “Oh, he’s on Seattle now.”

  45. 45.  We almost had the first flyout to left/fistfight.

  46. 46.  um….so what did K-Lo and Beckett just say to each other?

  47. 47.  Time to play “Captionize This”-What do you think they were yelling?

    “Moo goo gai pan!”
    “General Tsao’s Chicken!”

  48. 48.  These radar gun numbers seem a tad inflated — are these guys really throwin Nolan Ryan hard?

  49. 49.  Jesus Christ, Tim! You don’t keep score?

  50. 50.  When Joe Torre became manager of the Yankees:

    There were no DVDs.
    Java had just been released.
    There was no such thing as Viagra.
    Osama Bin Laden had yet to declare war on America.
    Dean Witter and Morgan Stanley were two separate companies.
    Tony Blair was not yet Prime Minister of England.
    There was no such thing as Fox News.
    The Bulls were the best team in the NBA; the Cowboys in the NFL.
    There was no iPod, and Apple was not in good financial shape.
    Princess Diana was still alive.
    The term “blog” had yet to be coined.
    Both Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. were still alive.
    So were Allen Ginsburg and William S. Burroughs.
    So were James Stewart and Robert Mitchum.
    Tommy Lasorda was still managing the Dodgers. Peter O’Malley was still the owner. Dodger post-game host Kevin Kennedy was managing the Red Sox.

    It might seem like Torre’s firing is being overplayed, but a lot of young baseball fans can’t remember when the Yankees had anyone else as manager.

  51. 51.  50 : Great list.

    My favorite thing about the almost flyball/fight was Lofton’s backward-leaning “I hope somebody holds me back soon” approach toward Beckett.

  52. 52.  Josh — I just want to say, these intro pieces have been compelling. Thanks for the work and soul you put into them.

  53. 53.  I had to turn the sound off after the Manny thing. Once it became clear that “Manny lolligagging and costing his team” was the new “Carmona sure is working that right side of the plate,” I had to bail.

  54. 54.  Crisp is so awful. Lugo is so awful. I wish I had an interesting way to say that. God, they are awful.

    52 : Thanks, Sam DC.

  55. 55.  wow, that was a nasty curve for the K

  56. 56.  23:1, that’s a great K:BB ratio. Small sample sizes be damned

  57. 57.  McCarver: “Along with being fluid, Beckett has a freedom of movement.” Thank you.

  58. 58.  I missed the Lofton to do. I had dozed off briefly. Not that the game is dull. It’s just that they’ve actually been making me work at work.

    But I did get to tell people at work about Fred Merkle and get paid for it.

  59. 59.  There were no DVDs.
    Torre gave fans a reason to buy WS compilations.

    Java had just been released.
    Torre created the pfx.

    There was no such thing as Viagra.
    Fans of other teams are punchless after playing Torre.

    Osama Bin Laden had yet to declare war on America.
    Clearly a Sox fan.

    Dean Witter and Morgan Stanley were two separate companies.
    They had to merge to handle Torre’s salary.

    Tony Blair was not yet Prime Minister of England.
    Only one Tory can lead at a time.

    There was no such thing as Fox News.
    A counter to Torre’s unfair and unbalanced domination of the league.

    The Bulls were the best team in the NBA; the Cowboys in the NFL.
    Torre destroyed dynasties irregardless of their sport.

    There was no iPod, and Apple was not in good financial shape.
    Two words, Torre podcasts.

    One, two, skip a few…

    Tommy Lasorda was still managing the Dodgers. Peter O’Malley was still the owner. Dodger post-game host Kevin Kennedy was managing the Red Sox.
    Enough said.

  60. 60.  To relate this to Joe Torre, that triple was reminiscent of Bubba Trammell and Gary Sheffield in the 2005 ALDS.

  61. 61.  The guy getting hit in the nuts with the bag of peanuts is my favorite ad moment of these playoffs. I don’t know how that relates to Joe Torre.

  62. 62.  I have no idea why Kenny Lofton made the catch on Ortiz’s sac fly that way.

  63. 63.  Joe Torre wouldn’t have done it that way.

  64. 64.  Keep Martinez out of the way of the Youkilis’ express?

  65. 65.  Why are they talking about a six out save for Papelbon? What does the man have to do to prove he cant do it? Has Okajima fallen into Mr. Burns’ Infinite Hole?

  66. 66.  C’mon Beckett. Hit him. You know you want to.

  67. 67.  C’mon Lofton, steal all three.

  68. 68.  One down, two to go. 🙂

  69. 69.  Darn!

  70. 70.  A one year contract for Lofton would have been such a wonderful alternative for some people.
    I just saw an ad for “Levitra” and I swear some of the side effects were ” flushing, blushing and running of the mouth”. I admit I am tired.

  71. 71.  Breathing a little now, but six outs are still a lot of outs.

  72. 72.  Kielty is a classic case (perhaps THE classic case) of a switch hitter who should never have become a switch hitter. He’s a horrible, horrible left-handed hitter: his career stats are similar to Neifi Perez. But right-handed, he’s darn near an all-star. He should have abandoned switch-hitting about three or four years ago. But since he can only hit LHPs, he sits on the bench most of the time. It’s a sad waste of talent, a career lost by an unfathomable stubbornness.

  73. 73.  Even JT Snow gave up switch-hitting.

    And isn’t Snow supposed to become the Giants new hitting coach?

  74. 74.  And now back to Boston. More intros for Josh to write!

  75. 75.  Thank you, Josh Beckett. Now let’s see if the Red Sox can win one (and then another, but first things first) without you.

  76. 76.  I always liked Carbo. I always thought he should have received more playing time. He had some great pop from the left side.

    He was the ROY in 1970 for The Sporting News.

    Check out this “Where is Carbo Now” story….


    Man, he was pretty far gone, and somehow found strength to carry on.

  77. 77.  76 : Thanks for the link to that article. He was a really good hitter, good power plus excellent, excellent OBP skills. And according to Strat-O-Matic ratings, he was a decent fielder, too, with a strong arm. It’s sort of amazing that he never really found a gig as a major league regular anywhere.

    One of the things I liked about that article is the exchange between Carbo and Pete Rose after Carbo’s homer. I’ve seen elsewhere that Rose kept remarking to anyone within earshot about how much fun he was having during that game. Say what you want about him, the dude loved playing baseball.

  78. 78.  I agree. Rose was a competitor, big-time!

    One of the funnest players to just watch play the game. I have a video of the 1975 all-star game, and Rose really just shines, by his determination, his hustle, and his grittiness. He hit lead-off and drills a pitch into center for a single. Morgan pounds a single, and there goes Rose chugging on all cylinders racing towards third. He launches into that gorgeous head-first slide. Like Superman the guy just lays himself out parallel to the ground, into that superhero dive, which seems to be really far from the bag. He lands spraying dirt everywhere and lands perfectly on the bag . . . safe, of course. Wow. That is cool shit.

    Later in the game he made a diving catch in leftfield. Just impressive, all out player. (He was selected as the starting LFer, even though he was playing third base that season.)

  79. 79.  I thought Trot Nixon was a little disappointing in his post-game interview the other night. Never explicitly citing Jesus Christ as his “personal savior.” and only casually referencing “the man upstairs” once during the entire chat.

    As one who used to play a drinking game during the NFL heyday of Reggie White et al. that hinged on evangelical references during interviews, I really expect more from ol’ Trot…

  80. 80.  79 : The Almighty Lord is keeping a lower profile all around these days. For example, I didn’t know until a couple weeks ago that the entire Colorado Rockies organization is Jesus-based (http://tinyurl.com/plk39). But the real loss for fans of flamboyant Christ-hallowing is on the gridiron. I mean, I don’t watch that much football, but is it not true that the post-touchdown “kneel-and-pray” is a thing of the past? Too bad if that’s true; in the ’90s, many a numbingly tedious Super Bowl blowout was enlivened by vigorous betting over whether or not a TD-scorer would draw bombastic attention to his humility by eschewing the traditional spike for a kneel and pray.

  81. 81.  Uh-oh. I guess free-agent-to-be Shawn Green won’t be performing the stations of the cross at Coors Field anytime soon.

    Fascinating article. No Maxim magazines, or obscenity-laced music, yet they play in a stadium named after a purveyor of alcoholic beverages…

    One wonders what Dan O’Dowd and Clint Hurdle would make of Lastings “Bend Ya Neez” Milledge’s nascent rap career.

    For the record I still stand firmly behind my belief that when Gary Carter said “He was with me..,” following Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS, he was referring to Charlie Kerfeld.

  82. 82.  Bernie Carbo is, of course, involved in one other famous WS moment, in Game 1 of the 1970 Series. He is the man sliding into home in this picture: http://home.nyc.rr.com/vibaseball/carbo2.gif

    Roger Angell’s vibrant description of this incident, from his book The Summer Game,can be read here (two paragraphs in length):

  83. 83.  81 : Wasn’t there also a big moment for the Mets in the late ’90s when pious Mets pitcher Orel Hershiser was seen talking on the dugout telephone just before the Mets made a game-winning play? I forget the particulars, but I recall that you’ve always referred to it as the time Orel “put in a call to the Lord.”

    82 : Thanks for those links. On top of those two plays, Carbo also had an earlier pinch-hit homer in the ’75 series.

  84. 84.  Yes. Righthander-of-the-cloth Orel Hershiser was, in fact, seen by millions on national television making his legendary “Phone Call to God” from the Mets dugout in the bottom of the fifteenth inning of Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS vs. the Braves.

    Hershiser, who claimed to have a “personal relationship with The Lord” in his thoughtful and well-written best-selling tome Between the Lines: Nine Principles to Live By was spotted chatting with The Almighty halfway through lead-off man Shawon Dunston’s extremely long, tense and grueling at bat – with the Mets trailing by one run and a nerve-wracking sense of bitter forboeding cloaking the entire stadium.

    Dunston eventually singled, the skies opened, a few walks were issued, Robin Ventura ultimately hit the miraculous “Grand Slam Single,” and the rest, as they say, is history.

  85. 85.  Haven’t read through all the comments yet, so sorry if someone made that point, but it was pretty common to read about several games in the IHT at the same time. Their deadline was before the previous day’s night games were finished, sometimes even before day games, and they didn’t publish on Sundays. So in Saturday’s paper you might read about Thursday’s scores, then you wouldn’t know about the weekend’s results until, maybe, Tuesday (if they had the space – often they wouldn’t have anything about the games they missed, not even linescores, since it was, after all, old news). So I’m not at all surprised by Josh’s story of seeing the Sox’s fortunes collapse from one day to the next. This is why I lost interest in US sports for about ten years after moving to Switzerland in ’94 (oh yeah, there was also the strike).

    Nowadays, I don’t think the IHT even tries to keep up with sports scores, but people don’t buy it for that anyway. In fact, now that they no longer have classified ads for escort services, I don’t know why anyone buys it.

    Bottom line: the IHT sucks, always has, still does. It has an aging-American-expat-in-Paris-whose-image-of-home-hasn’t-changed-since-the-50s kind of aesthetic. And it’s completely unnecessary now that there’s the web.

  86. Fascinating article on Bernie Carbo today at boston.com: http://tinyurl.com/ykvkyq4

    I’m an atheist, so the details don’t do much for me, but I am very happy that Bernie has found peace in his life. The understated joy of his home run trot in the 8th inning of game 6 remains a highlight of my 35 years of history as a Red Sox fan. And given Cecil Cooper’s vanishing act at the plate in those 7 games, I sometimes wonder whether Boston might not have won it all had Johnson played Carbo in left and Yaz at first the entire time.

  87. Thanks for passing along the link to that article. Bernie was always one of my most favorite Red Sox. Sounds like he got pretty close to the edge there for a while.

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