Bernie Carbo will forever be remembered in Boston for his historic three-run, pinch-hit home run to tie the score in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Those who watched clearly recall the turn of events and Carlton Fisk ending the game with a walk-off home run in extra innings. For Carbo, it may be fuzzy.
According to The Boston Globe, Carbo was under the influence for this entire series, and no, we aren’t talking human growth hormone. The home run hero confesses he was high on drugs his entire career, including that clutch Game 6 at-bat.
“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,” Carbo told the Globe.
His drug abuse may taint his legacy. It certainly tainted his career, he explains. His addictions ruined his career, which ended at age 33, after 12 years and 1,010 games. He said he may have been close to a Hall of Famer and “one heck of a ballplayer.”
“I played every game high,” he said. “I was addicted to anything you could possibly be addicted to. I played the outfield sometimes where it looked like the stars were falling from the sky.
“I played baseball 17 years of my life, and I don’t think I ever missed a day of being high, other than when I went to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait [for a baseball clinic] in 1989. And the only reason I didn’t do any drugs there was that I was afraid that I would lose my life.”
Carbo’s substance abuse began when a trainer gave him vitamins to improve his play. They did just that. He played his strongest season and was named Sporting News Rookie of the Year. These vitamins, a doctor confirmed in the offseason, were speed. He continued to consume those special vitamins after he saw the success they brought him. The trainer continued to supply him, while also introducing him to pain medicine and marijuana in 1969 and cocaine in 1973.
“So from 1973-80, I was taking Dexedrine, Benzedrine, Darvons, sleeping pills, smoking dope, drinking beer, doing cocaine, and chasing women, and I never played a day without it,” Carbo said.
The habit was expensive. Carbo spent $32,000 a month to feed his addictions. He doesn’t blame anyone but himself for his missteps, but he admits that he wasn’t the only one in the locker room who indulged in such “vitamins.”
In 1975, the same year he sailed one out past the center-field wall, Carbo woke up in a Chicago gutter with a car tire next to his feet and another just missing his head. A literal rude awakening.
“I just started crying,” he said. “I knew I needed help.”
Carbo, the son of a minor league player and steel factory worker, had a tough upbringing — which he was reminded of when his father did not call to congratulate him after the 1975 Series. This past and his struggles during his baseball career (with his father dying and his mother taking her own life) may have contributed to his battle with addictions.
“I just kept druggin’, druggin’, and druggin’ and contemplating suicide,” he said.
Now more mature and religious, Carbo says he has not given into his past temptations in 15 years. He runs a fantasy camp at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Ala., combining baseball and gospel. He also travels in the summer throughout New England-area youth camps, cleansing programs, churches and prisons.