Few images in the history of New England sports are as iconic as Carlton Fisk waving and willing a fly ball to stay fair at Fenway Park in the 12th Inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. On October 30th of that same year, “Pudge” was at Hampshire Hills in Milford to receive the Granite State Sportsman of the Year Award and, as it turned out, to sign hundreds of autographs.
Certainly the greatest athlete in New Hampshire history (unless you are some kind of crazy Red Rolfe fan), the Hall of Fame catcher hails from Charlestown, New Hampshire and was living in Raymond in 1975. At the gala, New Hampshire WGIR broadcaster Bob Lobel (still in his pre-Channel 4 days) told a crowd of more than 500 in front of their turkey dinners that Fisk’s long road back from a broken leg included morning runs along Route 101 and grueling afternoon workouts at the Manchester YMCA. Fisk was honored along with athletes of the Hampshire Hills Raquet and Health Club (as it was then known), while every few minutes, toastmaster Don Brewer called out the number of a youngster in the audience to come up for a baseball autographed by the star catcher. Fisk was given a 65-pound plaque made from — naturally — Milford granite and he only added to his reputation by signing autographs before and during dinner and then refusing to leave until every last kid in line went home happy. One can only imagine what one of those signed baseballs or programs would fetch today on eBay.
The crowd gathered at Hampshire Hills to see Fisk.