Bernie 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.