Ballou: Bernie Carbo pulls no punches and threw a few, too

From SABR member Bill Ballou at the Worcester Telegram on June 8, 2019:

History turns on small hinges, it has been said, and Red Sox history has some times turned on squeaky ones like Bernie Carbo.

Carbo is one of those Red Sox players whose contributions to the franchise’s lush texture probably add up to more than his raw numbers. Carbo was a part of the great, but somewhat doomed, Boston teams of the mid-1970s.

The 1974 Sox had a seven-game lead in the American League East on Aug. 23, and finished seven games out, in third place.

The 1975 team lost the World Series in heartbreaking fashion, the ’76 Sox had to change managers in mid-season, the ’77 team missed winning the AL East title by two games and the ’78 Red Sox lost a pennant playoff to the Yankees.

They were disappointing, but fun to watch and follow.

The roster featured flinty New Englander Carlton Fisk; graceful, gifted and carefree center fielder Fred Lynn; stoically serious Jim Rice; incomparably entertaining Luis Tiant; fiery shortstop Rick Burleson; cool customer Dwight Evans; ultimate clutch performer Carl Yastrzemski; eccentric southpaw Bill Lee; and Carbo.

Bill Belichick’s shadow extends far beyond the confines of Gillette Stadium and today’s Red Sox are great players on great teams, but they follow the mantra of Belichick and work very hard at making sure nobody knows what is really going on in their minds and lives.

That was never the case with Carbo, which is one reason he was so popular among fans of the time and remains a magnetic figure today. Carbo was at McCoy Stadium on Saturday, speaking to a Society for American Baseball Research group before a PawSox game.

The 71-year-old Carbo is a batting instructor, an evangelist and an author. He was a fine player whose personality worked against him back then, and probably would have prevented from even playing now.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: June 11, 2019. Last Updated: June 11, 2019.