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Red Sox' Bernie Carbo was as high as a kite during the '75 Series

Apr 1, 2010, 8:29 AM EST

Bernie Carbo.JPEGBernie Carbo cemented his legend, such as it is, in the 1975 World Series. The Red Sox were on the brink of losing Game 6 and the series to the Reds when Carbo hit a three-run
pinch hit home run to tie the score and to set up Carlton Fisk’s famous extra-innings shot.  Thank God Carbo was prepared for his big moment:

“I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four beers, got to
the ballpark, took some [amphetamines], took a pain pill, drank a cup of
coffee, chewed some tobacco, had a cigarette, and got up to the plate
and hit . . . I played every game high. I was addicted to anything you
could possibly be addicted to. I played the out field sometimes where it
looked like the stars were falling from the sky.”

Never a full-time player, Carbo was a career .264/.387/.427 hitter, playing his whole career in an environment that favored pitching.  One wonders how good he could have been if he hadn’t thrown it all away like he did.

Not that he didn’t have some help. He had a horrible childhood, was abused by a relative and had a father who was never there. Carbo says that as soon as he came up with the Reds, team trainers supplied him with amphetamines — calling them vitamins — and said that he more or less had to take them. He was soon hooked, and from there moved on to pain pills, sleeping pills cocaine and just about everything else you can imagine. We’re all ultimately the authors of our own destiny, but we have a lot of editors and uncredited contributors. Carbo had more than most.

Carbo has his life in order now — he’s been sober for 15 years — but his is a harrowing story of lost youth and lost promise.  Great job by the Globe’s Stan Grossfeld. Definitely a must-read today.

  1. Simon DelMonte - Apr 1, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    It would be really cruel to say that the first thing that came into my head is a line from Airplane. So I will leave it at how it is a lot harder to be a baseball player than we imagine. I don’t make excuses for his or anyone else’s decisions. I just note that I suspect a lot of us would have made some of the same choices.

  2. Hulka - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    No wonder he and Bill “Spaceman” Lee were such buddies…

  3. tyler - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    “We are never more (and sometimes less) than co-authors of our own narrative.” – Alastair MacIntyre

  4. Cooldaddy - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Hulka .. you made me chuckle with that one.

  5. OldNo7 - Apr 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    Why not, just for fun…
    I’ve come to the conclusion a long time ago that Craig is a big fan of one of the aforementioned weed/beer/greenie/coffee/chewing tobacco cheats. I’m not sure which one. He’s upset that said cheat won’t be voted into the Hall of Fame and is on a mission to clear the cheat’s name by muddying the waters and implicating every baseball player (past and present) so that people throw their hands up and say, “ENOUGH!” Let everyone go into the Hall.
    Seeing as Craig writes an almost daily article about, um, everything abuse in baseball, almost always siding with the abusers, his agenda is clear. I won’t let him do it. Not without a fight.
    “san nickety”

  6. Dick Dasterdly - Apr 1, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    Ya, but did ‘Bernie the Bonger’ listen to the Grateful Dead or not?

  7. Old Gator - Apr 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    “All stories are one. Do not doubt it.” …Cormac McCarthy
    .
    And by way of illustration, I was high as a kite during the 1975 Series as well. And 1974. And 1973. And 1972. And….

  8. doctorwrites - Apr 1, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Carbo was the Reds first round draft choice the year they took Johnny Bench second.

  9. Evan - Hartford - Apr 1, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Thanks for the quote. It’s easier to just cut and paste than to regurgitate the same thing over and over.
    I’ll give Craig credit though. Of all the HBT writers, he tends to tackle the more contraversial issues. You won’t piss off a lot of people by talking about Stephen Strasburg’s debut etc.
    Craig, I’ve long suspected that Alvaro Espinoza was on roids, booze and greenies. Can you confirm this? I only wonder because I caught a foul ball from him back in the late 80s at Yankee Stadium and I want to know if I should throw it out.

  10. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 1, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Evan — thanks for being a good sport. I’ll admit: of all the people who get on my ass over PED stuff, your posts tend to be the best constructed. ;-)
    Espinoza: take the ball to a psychic and have her tell you if it feels evil. She’ll steer you right.

  11. Rick B. - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    So how well did Bernie hit against Dock Ellis?

  12. Evan - Hartford - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Well thank you. I try to put in the effort just as you put in the effort in writing the article.
    .
    For PEDs, I get the counterargument. Basically, its impossible for us to know exactly who “cheated” and who didn’t, save for a few select individuals. It’s illogical to deny the HOF to those few people that got caught while the vast majority of “cheaters” get in and are praised for their accomplishments. I get that.
    .
    For me, it comes down to two things. One is the fact that our legal system works the same way. We all have gone through life and met people (unknowingly) that have committed a heinous crime and have gotten away with it. Some of these people probably hold high office, make boat loads of money and perhaps are praised for their philanthropic ventures. But when someone is caught for a heinous crime, they can’t argue that they should be let off or have a reduced sentences simply because so many people get away with it.
    .
    My second reason is metrics for how people are supposed to be voted into the HOF. Personally, I don’t think all the metrics hold equal weight. I think an individual’s “character” is less important than their career HRs or ERA etc. That said, someone’s character (or lackthereof) should be able to keep someone out of the hall, despite their accolades. I think someone who can’t tell the truth when the whole world is watching doesn’t belong, regardless of their numbers. I think someone who has nothing but disdain for fans and media, doesn’t belong.

  13. BC - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    I was 8 in 1975. It was a good 10 years before I got into anything interesting.

  14. Jack Meoffer - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Snore…another athlete from the 70’s who was high or drunk. Is this even news ? What’s next ? George Foster admitting he was a black man in the 70’s.

  15. Charles Gates - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Evan, I agree with you. I think the distinction in perspectives tends to lie not in what people have done and whether it was right or wrong, but rather with the media/public’s outcry associated with the transgression. This article is case in point. Some guy, though not so popular- so he might be a pear to McGwire’s apple- admits to these things, and the reaction is: ‘Meh.’ On the flip side, if anyone is even remotely connected with steroids, it’s as if the main stream media has spotted the horsemen of the apocalypse galloping on the horizon, resulting in tweets and compositions spewing brimstone and ash.
    It’s either hypocrisy or ignorance to believe that yesteryear’s game is pure and that today represents the bastardization of our beloved pastime. If you want to keep ‘roiders out of the HOF, sure, I could be persuaded. But unless you can go back in time and retroscore each inductee’s character based a consistent criteria, which you can’t, you (and I don’t necessilary mean you, Evan, moreso MSM in general) need to coherently explain, with claims supported by data, why steroids represent something not so unlike Bernie Carbo’s average Tuesday.

  16. DKUVA - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    I note this was posted on April 1 — it seems to be an April Fools kind of comment — because who would care about this?

  17. talex - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Craig,
    Since not all murderers get caught why don’t we let all the murderers who haven’t gotten caught out of jail simply out of fairness. And all the child molesters. All of those who have been convicted for drug offenses. Robbery also. Tax evasion. Ponzi schemes. Battery. Cruelty to animals. And those convicted of DWI. Since so many of those types DON’T get caught we can’t have all those who DO get caught pay the price of their errors/cheating.
    Nice logic!

  18. Curious George - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    Just another data point to illustrate how today’s players haven’t sullied a pristine institution, an institution that has never been as pure as the driven snow despite the warm glow one might get from Ken Burns or Field of Dreams.

  19. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Apr 1, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    I don’t think it’s possible for someone to read an article and miss the point as badly as you have. It’s not like you even got the point wrong, you are so far out in left field it’s utterly amazing. Read Charles Gates response above yours, then try again.

  20. cactusRick - Apr 1, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    Trying to hold pro athletes, movie/rock stars, etc to higher standards when we already put them on a pedestal, is absurd. The ones we have to hold to a higher standard are our doctors, lawyers, priests, politicians, etc. These are the ones that shape our kids lives. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, et. al., all played while drunk, hung over, on drugs……it never changes….

  21. Curious George - Apr 1, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    “Since not all murderers get caught why don’t we let all the murderers who haven’t gotten caught out of jail simply out of fairness.”
    .
    I looked up non sequitur in the dictionary and saw the above passage.

  22. talex - Apr 1, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    My reply was in response to Craig’s response above. Maybe you should put your glasses on and read the entire thread first before you decide to comment.

  23. mike - Apr 1, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    Sweet, how nice to read this story!!!!! maybe Buckner should have done the smae thing in 86′

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