Johnny Pesky 1919-2012: The heart and soul of the Red Sox
The Red Sox organization lost a man very close to its heart Monday as Johnny Pesky passed away of natural causes at 92-years-old, a little over a month before he would have turned 93.
Better known as “Mr. Red Sox,” Pesky had been associated with the team for 70 years. He joined the club in 1942 and spent eight of his 10 years in the majors with the Red Sox as a middle infielder.
Following his playing days, Pesky had a number of roles with the Red Sox including manager, coach, broadcaster, and most recently, ambassador.
Pesky had been around the team on a day-to-day basis at Fenway Park and spring training virtually every season up until last year. Even in his 80s Pesky would hit ground balls to Red Sox infielders at spring training.
The right field foul pole at Fenway Park has long been nicknamed “Pesky’s Pole”, despite the left-handed hitter only hitting 17 career home runs.
Pesky loved the Red Sox and was always around to give advice to Boston players. His hands-on approach had helped many players and also allowed him to build strong relationships with Red Sox greats such as Jim Rice and Nomar Garciaparra.
He has always connected with many generations of Red Sox fans as Pesky had been known to sit for hours signing autographs for fans at spring training over the years. His outgoing and bubbly personality made it easy for fans and members of the Red Sox organization to connect with him on a personal level.
The Red Sox retired Pesky’s No. 6 in 2008. He is the only non-Hall of Famer to have his number retired by the Red Sox. No one loved the Red Sox as much as Pesky.
Back in 2007 major league baseball’s new rules limited the number of uniformed coaches in the dugout during games, forcing Pesky out. This didn’t stop Pesky as he was still a daily fixture on the field before games, always smiling, cracking jokes and giving advice whenever he could. He would watch the game from a security room at the park.
Although Pesky’s physical presence is gone you can be sure his smile and outgoing personality will still be shining down on Fenway Park, a place he called home for 70 years.
Fans react to the passing of Pesky on Twitter
An outpouring of love for Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky was felt on social media outlets throughout last night.
Though the majority of Red Sox fans never even witnessed Pesky play, he was perhaps the most well-known face of baseball history during the past four decades at Fenway Park.
@docAvelar tweeted, “Rest in peace Johnny Pesky. RedSox Nation will always remember you. Thank you!
@toadya10 tweeted, “Johnny Pesky died today at 92. Hope the Sox hit a couple off Pesky’s Pole next outing.”
@hannahb1533 tweeted, “Sad to hear about Johnny Pesky’s passing … lets end this season with a bang for him @RedSox!! -Matt Burke
Menino talks Sox legend
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino release a statement on Pesky’s death:
“All of Red Sox Nation mourns the loss of ‘Mr. Red Sox,’ Johnny Pesky. He loved the game and he loved the fans – and we loved him. His dedication to the sport and his passion to improve the game through the mentorship of young players will be sorely missed …” -Matt Burke
Teams across baseball mourn the loss of No. 6
Johnny Pesky earned the respect of every team in MLB in his 70 years in and around baseball.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig said: “The national pastime has lost one of its greatest ambassadors today. Johnny Pesky, who led a great American life, was an embodiment of loyalty and goodwill for the Boston Red Sox and all of Major League Baseball.”
The Yankees honored Pesky with a moment of silence last night prior to their game against Texas.
“Every time I’d see him, he would come over and say, ‘I hope you get four hits today – and the guy behind you hits into four double plays,” New York shortstop Derek Jeter said. -Matt Burke