Wednesday, October 21st marks the 40th Anniversary of one of the most memorable moments in World Series history: Carlton Fisk’s 12th-inning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Associated Press photographer Harry Cabluck captured the iconic and enduring images after Fisk’s swing. This is the story behind those photos.
Sometimes a photographer is a psychologist or a pack mule. Sometimes he’s a fortune-teller, a soothsayer. But when talking about the Carlton Fisk photo, none of these was the case.
Fisk was there because he was told to go stand in the batters box and take his cuts at the ball. And as a photographer, I was in center field because I was told to be there and point a camera at the plate.
Simple as that.
When the AP covers the Super Bowl, World Series or whatever, everybody has an assigned position. Center field was my position. That night, I put a fresh roll in the camera with the thought that only one memorable thing can happen here, and if it does, I am going to need the whole roll. I picked up the camera with the fresh roll in it, he made the swing.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Whoever is working that position has got to make that frame. I’ve never thought about if someone else would had been in my place, but I’m sure if one of my fellow photographers Rusty Kennedy, Mark Duncan or Eric Gay was out there, they would’ve gotten the shot, too.
I shot that image with an 800mm lens and a Leica. The AP had a 1000mm lens, but this was my lens. I was not an unusual photographer; I just had an unusual lens.
It’s okay to jockey for position — for what you think is a better camera position. But if you are a good photographer, you will make a good picture wherever you are. You don’t have to be at ground zero to get the shot. There is still a picture.
I was in the motorcade in Dallas when Kennedy was shot. I made the pictures I could. I didn’t see gun fire or anything, I just pointed the camera out the window and shot three frames as we went by it. I just played the cards that I had.
With the Franco Harris “Immaculate Reception” play in 1972, the only thing that could’ve happened in the final minute of that game would be for the Steelers to score a touchdown. Nothing else would’ve done it. So I went from the opposite end of the field, where the Raiders had just scored, with a fresh roll of film, and the Immaculate Reception happened.
That was just me anticipating what the heck else could happen in the game to make it change. I guess maybe that’s the soothsayer, right? Because there were only two people in that end zone: Me, and the NFL photographer, Ernie.
As for the Fisk picture, you could ask Fisk, “Well, did you plan to hit that pitch and make it go that way toward the foul pole?”
No. He just wanted to make contact. He was there to do his job, and he did it, alright.
The Red Sox sent Fisk to the plate to hit a home run and win the game.
The AP team sent a photographer to center field to make a photograph of it.
Each did his job.
And so it goes.