Carrigan started his career as a platoon catcher and played all ten seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Midway through the 1913 baseball season, he replaced Jake Stahl as manager of the defending World Series champion Red Sox as a player-manager. He then led Boston to a second-place finish in 1914 and two world championships in 1915 and 1916, compiling an 8–2 record as a manager in World Series play. Until Terry Francona duplicated the feat in 2007, he was the only manager to have won two World Series titles with Boston. Babe Ruth called Carrigan the best manager he ever played for.
He then left baseball to become a banker in his home state of Maine. He returned to manage the Red Sox in 1927, but he was unable to duplicate his previous success as Boston finished in last place for three straight seasons. Bill Carrigan died in Lewiston, Maine, at the age of 85. He was posthumously elected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004.