Sunday was Carlton Fisk day at USCF. The White Sox unveiled a statue on the concourse in left center field to mark the occasion. I watched the ceremony from a few feet away.
The statue itself is a work of art; incredibly life-like. Fisk seemed genuinely touched by the gesture. His stood near the statue, his wife at his side, as his son gave a speech in his honor. Later, on the field, I noticed that both of his parents appeared to be in attendance. (I'm sure it was his father. They look exactly alike.) They were very interested in getting a their picture taken with Ozzie Guillen.
Fisk was greeted warmly by the players as he reached the dugout before throwing out the first pitch. I was a little surprised at the reception he gave to White Sox head trainer Herm Schnieder. He had given brief hugs to former teammates Guillen and Harold Baines, but when he reached Schnieder, he exchanged a long embrace and appeared to have a nice little chat catching up on old times. Jack McDowell was a surprise attendee, reversing the roles they played in a White Sox uniform, he served as Pudge's catcher for the games ceremonial first pitch.
Overall, there was an abundance of goodwill on the field Sunday. It was really nice to see, especially considering the way that Pudge's career ended.
- Jon Garland was great. The one run he allowed was a direct result of him tipping a tailor made double play ball which scooted by Juan Uribe and allowed Doyle to go from first to third. He was so good in fact, that I was actually upset that he was removed for Damaso Marte to face Raul Ibanez. I thought he could get the complete game.
- Garland received a large ovation as he left in the 8th inning. I was thinking to myself 'that's the loudest ovation I've heard for a starting pitcher at USCF' -- I'm sure Buehrle's received larger, and Garlad got a huge one back in May when he fanned Miguel Tejada with the bases juiced, but it was the loudest I've heard while I was in attendance.
- The play of the game was obviously Aaron Rowand's catch to end the 8th inning. It was easily the top defensive play of the year for the Sox, topping Juan Uribe's 9th inning miracle in Detroit.
When Richie Sexson hit that ball, I didn't think it had enough to get out, but it looked like it would easily clear Rowand's head, and clear the bases to tie the game. As it hung up in the air longer, and as Rowand continued to run back towards the center field wall, I was getting really worried that it was going to leave the yard. It hung up there just long enough for Rowand to grab it just as he hit the wall. Replays actually show him hitting the wall just before making the catch.
From a little over 450ft. away, I couldn't tell if he had made the grab or not. I was standing there, fist clenched like Michael Jordan, yelling "did he get it?! Did he get it!?" While he was laying on the ground, and I had no clue whether he had made the grab or not, I couldn't help but think of the White Sox commercials. (click 'taste spot' and 'catch the ball') I guess he had to take a subway ride to hell before we knew the outcome of the play.
Just minutes after Garland's huge ovation, Rowand received the largest amount of applause and adulation that I've ever seen bestowed on a player who hadn't just hit a walk-off HR. (I told you there was a lot of goodwill at the ballpark Sunday.) The ovation last nearly until the first batter of the next half-inning. He also got a healthy amount of applause from the outfield crowd as he returned to his post for the top of the 9th inning.
- The win was number 72 on the season, which coincidently was the number that Fisk wore in his time on the south side.