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FORMER BIG LEAGUER ON GUAM

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By Patrick Lujan

Former big leaguer Bernie Carbo (R) discusses his career during his first day on Guam. Jared Baldwin (L) helped bring his friend out to Guam. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

He’s reached the pinnacle of a professional baseball player and the valley of life.

Former major leaguer Bernie Carbo experienced the high of hitting a home run in the 1975 World Series and 98 major league homers and low of drug use.

This week, he’s on Guam sharing his experiences of both high and low with our island’s community as part of his ‘Diamond Club Ministry’ he started in 1993. He is the special guest of Harvest Baptist Church.

“I woke up this morning and it’s beautiful,” Carbo said about his first day on Guam. “The people I’ve met already are all happy and friendly.”

Carbo played for eight teams in his 12-year career, finishing with a .264 batting average, 98 home runs and 358 RBI. He is best known for his pinch hit, three-run homer in Game Six of the ’75 Series that tied the score at 6-all, paving the way for teammate Carlton Fisk’s legendary game-winning homer in the bottom of the twelfth for a 7-6 Red Sox victory. Carbo would be inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004.

Carbo played for eight teams in a 12-year big league career.

His message he will be sharing while on Guam is hard and simple: a lost soul who found Jesus Christ to save him.

Carbo was down and out as a 43-year-old retiree. Addicted to drugs and alcohol.

“I lived my life for 43 years thinking there was nothing wrong,” said the Alabama resident who was an alcoholic at age 17 and a drug addict at 21. “I was traded every two years. Why? Because (the teams) found out about me. I was a crazy man, but did anyone ask me if I needed some help?”

Even his most memorable moment was a telling sign of his life problems. It is well documented that Carbo was high when he pinch hit in the eighth inning of Game Six and smacked a 2-2 pitch to centerfield that would tie the game and set up the Fisk homer.

“I dreamt about it my whole life. After the game I’m smoking and drinking and crying, thinking ‘what do I have to do to be loved’.

“Who would’ve thought that home run would open doors. Thirty seven years later, that home run got me to come to Guam.”

He had been the Reds’ number-one draft pick in the inaugural 1965 draft, ahead of Johnny Bench. He was the 1969 Minor League Player of the Year and The Sporting Newsrookie of the year in 1970.

Carbo shares his life’s story about drugs and alcohol and turning his life around through Jesus Christ during lunch at Chili’s Wednesday. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

He hit rock bottom in 1993 when his mother committed suicide, his father passed away and his first marriage dissolved. While in rehab, Carbo opened his heart to Christ and it changed his life forever.

Now he uses baseball as the media to share with others the drastic change. While in Guam, he will be speaking at the Department of Corrections, Department of Youth Affairs and speak Sunday night at the Harvest Baptist Church  at 5 p.m.

“They think that they can’t be forgiven and they live with guilt,” said Carbo about people he reaches out to. They think they won’t change or they think they have to fix everything before accepting Christ in their life.”

Reflecting back at his 17-year pro career in which he says, “I must have been pretty good”, Carbo imagines what could’ve been.

“When I look at things today, I would sacrifice to be great. God wants you to be as good as you possibly can. The game is not the most important thing.”

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