Fisk burst on scene by winning ’72 AL Rookie of the Year

Written by: Craig Muder

A career that ended in Cooperstown began with nearly instant stardom for Carlton Fisk.

On Nov. 20, 1972, Fisk was named the American League’s Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Fisk received all 24 votes in the balloting at a time when only first-place votes were recorded.

In the 24 years to that point where the award was given to a player in each league, Fisk was the first AL player to be a unanimous selection.

“I honestly can’t say I’m overwhelmed or surprised or any of that,” Fisk told the Boston Globe after learning the honor. “There have been stories about me and the Rookie of the Year Award since June – a lot of stories – so I couldn’t honesty say I was surprised.

“I am thrilled. I am flattered to think that so many people thought so highly of me.”

Fisk entered Spring Training of 1972 with only 16 big league games under his belt and as the No. 3 catcher on the Red Sox’s depth chart.

But by the middle of May, Fisk had claimed the job outright.

After hitting .354 with nine home runs and 19 RBI during the month of July, Fisk was being called one of the best catchers in the American League.

By the end of the year, Fisk had totaled 22 home runs and 61 RBI in 131 games while hitting .293 with an AL-best nine triples.

“I was a little surprised at myself this season,” Fisk told the Boston Globe. “I was surprised I was able to maintain the level of concentration that I did. This was far and away the most games I had ever played.”

Fisk would go on to become one of the most durable catchers of all time, retiring after the 1993 season with a record (since surpassed) of 2,226 games caught. He was named to 11 All-Star Games over 24 seasons with the Red Sox and White Sox, totaled 376 home runs and finished in the Top 10 of the AL MVP voting four times, including a fourth-place finish in 1972.

That year was also the year of Fisk’s first-and-only Gold Glove Award.

“I was just hoping to complement the team with my defense and once in a while with my bat,” Fisk told United Press International. “I’m immensely happy to have contributed as much as I have to the club. At the beginning of the year, I felt that I may not make the club at all.”

Fisk was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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