Red Sox Legend Johnny Pesky Passes Away

Rest In Peace Johnny Pesky 9/27/1919 – 8/13/2012

Johnny Pesky, a mainstay in the Boston Red Sox organization for over 60 years and arguably one of the most recognizable faces in Red Sox team history passed away today at the age of 92. You’ll never find a single man in the last generation, the current generation, or the next generation that was so inherently loyal to a single sports franchise than Johnny.  Pesky proudly wore the Red Sox uniform almost every day of the season from the time that he signed with the Red Sox in 1939 until the time that he was no longer physically able to do so.

Johnny Pesky played in 1,029 games for the Boston Red Sox from 1942 until 1952, losing 3 years from 1943-1945 to military service.  He amassed 1,277 hits for the Red Sox, good for a .313 average with the club.  He had 196 doubles, 46 triples, 13 home runs, 361 runs batted in and 48 stolen bases in his time with Boston.  He played a solid shortstop and teamed up with Hall of Fame 2B Bobby Doerr in the middle of the Sox infield throughout the 40’s.  He managed the Sox in 1963 and 1964 to rather disappointing results.   He returned to the Red Sox organization in 1968 as a colour commentator on WHDH radio and WBZ TV.  He became the Red Sox’ 1st base coach in 1975 and held that position until 1980 when he became hitting coach and bench coach.  When manager Don Zimmer was fired with 5 games left in the 1980 season Pesky became the team’s interim manager.  He went back to his bench and batting coach role until 1984.  He actually managed the Pawtucket Red Sox for their final 2 1/2 months of the 1990 season.  He has been officially listed as a special instructor and assistant to the General Manager since 1985.

Pesky certainly made his mark with the Red Sox organization and his legacy will live on forever in a lot of ways.  The right field foul pole was named Pesky’s Pole since teammate Mel Parnell joked that the only way that he could hit a home run was to bend it around that foul pole. He had his #6 retired in 2008, the only player in Red Sox history that isn’t in the Pro Baseball Hall Of Fame to have his number on the right field facade.  I was fortunate enough to watch that ceremony live at Fenway Park.  He will also forever stand outside the right field gate of Fenway Park along with his friends and teammates Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, and Bobby Doerr in the form of a statue inspired by the book “Teammates” by David Halberstam.  He was in the Red Sox clubhouse in St. Louis to celebrate the Red Sox first World Series win in 86 years in 2004, 58 years after he played in the 1946 World Series for the Red Sox against those same St. Louis Cardinals.  He was on the field for one of the final times this past April re-uniting with his former double play partner Bobby Doerr at the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park celebration.

Pesky was more than just a baseball guy.  He served in the United States Navy and spent 3 years away from the baseball diamond fighting for America in World War II from 1943-1945.  Ruth, his wife of 61 years passed away in 2005.  He is survived by his son David.

In closing I don’t want to tie the situation that the Red Sox are currently in with Pesky’s passing but I will say one thing.  It’s always been about the logo more than it’s been about just one man. Next time you say that you are done with this team, for whatever reason, remember that this man , Johnny Pesky, literally gave virtually his entire adult life to this one organization.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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