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On This Date in Sports: October 21, 1975: Fisk Wishes it Fair

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In a World Series game filled with, the Boston Red Sox beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-6 in 12 innings at Fenway Park. The Red Sox tied the game in the eighth inning on a three-run homer by Bernie Carbo. The game ends on a home run by Carlton Fisk over the Green Monster, that was coaxed to stay fair with body language. The win forced a seventh game, which the Reds would win 4-3, rallying from a 3-0 deficit. 

Spurred by a pair of super rookies, the Boston Red Sox had a magical year, winning their first division title with a record of 95-65 for manager Darrell Johnson. Fred Lynn became the first player to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. Jim Rice finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and third in MVP voting. In the ALCS, the Red Sox stunned Oakland Athletics, who were the three-time defending World Series Champions in a three-game sweep. 

The Cincinnati Reds had been a machine in the National League West, finishing in first place for the fourth time in six years. They were the earliest team to clinch first place in baseball history, on the way to posting a record of 108-54 as Joe Morgan was named MVP. The Reds reached the World Series sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates in three straight games. It was the third time they beat Pittsburgh on the way to the World Series. The Reds lost their two previous appearances in the Fall Classic, losing to the Baltimore Orioles in 1970 and the Athletics in 1972. 

Luis Tiant got the start for Boston in Game 1, while Don Gullett was on the mound for the Reds. It was a special day for El Titante as he had a reunion with his parents before the game. Luis Tiant not seen his father and mother for 14 years as travel restrictions made it impossible for him to return home to Cuba, while his parents were not allowed to leave the island nation. The Tiants were granted a special visa to visit their son during the World Series and stayed in the U.S. for the remainder of their lives. Inspired by the family reunion, Luis Tiant pitched a five-hit shutout as the Red Sox won the opener 6-0. All six runs came in the seventh inning using a parade of singles as Carl Yastrzemski broke the scoreless tie with a single with the bases loaded.  

Bill Lee got the start for the Red Sox in Game 2, as Jack Billingham looked to even things up for Cincinnati. Boston got the first run of the game in the first inning as Carlton Fisk drove home Yaz, who got to second base after Cecil Cooper stayed in a rundown on a double play. The Reds scratched across a run in the fourth inning to tie the game, but with an RBI by Rico Petrocelli in the sixth, Boston went into the ninth with a 2-1 lead. After Johnny Bench led off the ninth with a double, Lee was removed for closer Dick Drago. Drago got the first two outs but gave up a game-tying hit to Dave Concepcion, who later scored on a double by Ken Griffey Sr. Rawley Eastwick, who entered the game in the eighth retired the Red Sox in order as the Reds won the game 3-2. 

As the series shifted to Riverfront Stadium for Game 3, the Reds had Gary Nolan on the mound, while Rick Wise started for the Red Sox. Fisk gave Boston the lead in the second inning with a home run. In the fourth inning, Johnny Bench homered with Tony Perez aboard to give the Reds a 2-1 lead. The Reds extended the lead on back-to-back homers from Dave Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo. After Pete Rose hit a triple, the Reds extended the lead to 5-1 on a sac-fly by Joe Morgan. Boston began to claw their way back in the game in the sixth inning as reliever Pat Darcy had trouble locating the plate. Bernie Carbo hit a home run off Clay Carroll in the seventh inning. In the ninth, Dwight Evans tied the game 5-5 with a dinger against Eastwick. After Eastwick shut down Boston in the tenth inning, the Reds got a leadoff hit by Geronimo against Jim Willoughby. Ed Armbrister, batting for the Reds’ pitcher laid down a sack bunt and got entangled with Carlton Fisk. Fisk arguing for batter interference threw the ball into centerfield allowing the winning run to advance to third. Pete Rose was intentionally walked to load the bases. Roger Moret struck out Merv Rettenmund but gave up a game-winning single to Joe Morgan as the Red won 6-5 to the Reds a 2-1 series lead. 

The Red Sox called upon Luis Tiant again in Game 4, as Fred Norman got the start for Cincinnati. The Reds scored two runs in the first inning on doubles by Griffey and Bench. In the fourth inning, the Red Sox bat erupted for four runs as Dwight Evans hit a triple and scored on a Rick Burleson double to give Boston a 3-2 lead. The Red Sox added two more runs with the aid of an error by Tony Perez at first base. The Reds got two runs back in the bottom of the inning with a double by Dave Concepcion and a triple by Cesar Geronimo. Tiant would not allow another run, going the distance as the Red Sox won 5-4 to even the series at two games apiece. 

Don Gullett was opposed by Reggie Cleveland in Game 5. Denny Doyle got a one-out triple and scored on a Yastrzemski sac-fly to give Boston a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The Reds answered with a home run by Tony Perez in fourth. They would take the lead one inning later as Pete Rose doubled home Don Gullett who reached base on a two-out single. In the sixth inning, Cincinnati broke the game open with a three-run shot by Tony Perez. The Reds added a run in the eight, while Boston scored in the ninth, for a final 6-2 victory that gave the Reds a 3-2 series lead heading back to Boston. 

There was an extended break in the World Series as heavy rains delayed Game 6 for three days. With the delay, the Red Sox were able to get Luis Tiant back on the mound against Gary Nolan. Fred Lynn gave the Red Sox an early lead with a three-run home run in the first inning. The Reds would tie the game in the fifth inning as Ken Griffey Sr. had a two-run triple and scored on a single by Bench. The Reds took the lead in the seventh on a two-run double by George Foster. Cesar Geronimo hit a home run in the eight, to extend the lead to 6-3 as the Reds could taste the champagne. Things looked bleak for Boston as Cincinnati closer Rawley Eastwick took the mound in the eighth. With two outs and two on pinch hitter, Bernie Carbo homered to dead center to tie 6-6. The Red Sox got strong relief from Dick Drago while Pat Darcy was steady for Cincinnati. Rick Wise escaped a jam in the 12th as Darcy began a third inning off work. On a 1-0 count, Carlton Fisk hit a ball down the left-field line that tucked inside the foul pole over the green monster to win the game 7-6. Replays showed Fisk using body language to keep the ball fair, as the Red Sox lived to play in Game 7.  Many baseball experts consider Game 6 among the best games ever and 1975 the best World Series ever.

The dramatic ending in Game 6 helped boost television ratings for Game 7 as a record 76 million viewers tuned in as Bill Lee stared for Boston, while Don Gullett started for the Reds. The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead in the third as Yaz drove in a run and Gullett walked in two. Lee was humming along until the sixth inning when Tony Perez caught one of his floaters and sent the ball over the green monster. Pete Rose, who was named World Series MVP drove in a run to tie the game in the seventh inning. The Reds were getting superior pitching out of the bullpen as Jack Billingham, Clay Carroll, and Will McEnanery allowed just one hit in five innings. With the game tied 3-3 and Jim Burton on the mound for Boston, the Reds got a leadoff walk by Ken Griffey Sr. in the ninth inning. Griffey would score the winning on a two-out single by Joe Morgan as the Reds won 4-3 with Carl Yastrzemski flying out to center to end the game.