Carlton Fisk has his number (27) retired

ON THIS DATE (September 4, 2000) ... Carlton Fisk's No. 27 joined the numbers of Bobby Doerr (1), Joe Cronin (4), Carl Yastrzemski (8), and Ted Williams (9) on the facing of the right-field roof, a place reserved for the most select of Red Sox ballplayers.

Instead of proceeding directly to the podium set up behind second base by groundskeeper Joe Mooney, Fisk took a detour and made his way along the right-field grandstand railing, slapping hands with spectators, until he reached the first-base dugout, where Sox players, including native New Englanders Rico Brogna and Lou Merloni, stood and applauded.

Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek would later wear his socks with the stripes showing in imitation of Fisk, a 10-time All-Star who played 2,236 games, a record for a catcher, 1,078 of those with the Sox. The Chicago White Sox, the team with which he finished his career, already have retired his No. 72.

Fisk stood in front of the dugout, facing the crowd, and patted his heart in appreciation. Fisk's family, including his parents, Cecil and Leona; his wife, Linda; his daughters, Carlyn and Courtney; and his son, Casey, all occupied seats of honor, along with Red Sox CEO John Harrington, Duquette, and Carl Yastrzemski, Fisk's Hall of Fame teammate.

Hall of Famer Ted Williams also was not present, but during the ceremony he called the ballpark. Among those who attended were former teammates Rico Petrocelli and Dwight Evans and former hitting coach Walt Hriniak. Red Sox batting coach Jim Rice and broadcaster Jerry Remy also played with Fisk.

The ceremony, which featured a video compilation of Fisk in action, culminating with his 1975 World Series home run off the left- field foul pole, was noticeable for a blatant commercial tie-in. On either side of the podium, there were placards bearing the logos of the Red Sox and a credit-card company. The credit-card logo also was displayed prominently on the backdrop for Fisk's press conference.

Fisk, who was gently teased for the length of his speech at Cooperstown in July, kept his remarks brief , speaking for six minutes.

"The roots of New England were with me every step of the way," Fisk said. "I hope I can be an inspiration to other New England, New Hampshire boys and young men."

When he was finished, two pitchers of distinction emerged from the Sox dugout. One was Pedro Martinez, who headed toward the bullpen to warm up for his start. The other was Luis Tiant, Fisk's favorite pitcher, who retreated behind the plate to receive the ceremonial first pitch.

The two men warmly embraced. Then, to the sounds of Tina Turner belting out "Simply the Best," Fisk strolled past the visitors' dugout, where Mariners coach Larry Bowa, veteran outfielder Rickey Henderson, and current star Alex Rodriguez were among those who shook his hand. Eventually, he made his way out to left field, where he held the framed plaque of his number, then reached up and patted the foul pole with which he will forever be linked.

Some of the biggest cheers yesterday were reserved for the video footage that showed Fisk's scraps with the Yankees, a '70s rivalry that he said would never again be matched in intensity. One of the scenes showed the fight Fisk had with Lou Piniella, the former Yankee outfielder who was here yesterday as manager of the Mariners.

The fruits of Fisk's labors can now be found on a plaque in Cooperstown, and on a rooftop on Yawkey Way.