As a player, manager and commentator, Johnny Pesky spent more than 60 years with the Red Sox, becoming a familiar face to countless fans.
Pesky, who died last Monday at 92 years old, was a legend for one of the most followed teams in all of sports. He didn’t hit a lot of home runs and he hadn’t played a Major League Baseball game since 1954, but he received one of the loudest ovations when he appeared during the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park earlier this year.
With all that Pesky had done for the Red Sox, and his North Shore community, those who paid their respects at his public wake yesterday were surprised to see few other fans and friends.
“I wish there was more people here,” said James Raftelis, 52, of Lynn, after leaving the Lynn funeral home hosting Pesky’s services.
Raftelis, dressed in a Red Sox jersey and hat and carrying Sox pictures, recalled Pesky’s generosity in the community and pointed out how he always made time to sign autographs.
“I knew Johnny all of my life. I was glad to come down here,” he said.
A public wake had been announced for yesterday that stretched from 2 p.m. through 8 p.m. For the first half of that time, fewer than 200 people came and went from the Solimine Landergan and Richardson Funeral Home.
The only time a line formed during the first half of the wake was right before the doors opened at 2 p.m.
However, those who did attend yesterday’s wake and paid their respects recalled Pesky as a generous and modest man.
Debra Woodward, who traveled from North Hampton, N.H., to say goodbye to No. 6, recalled how she asked Pesky for his autograph and he jokingly told her that she didn’t want his and should get a younger player’s autograph. He signed the ball anyway.
“He was Mr. Red Sox to us.” she said.
Players pay respects
While the funeral home was made open to all in Red Sox Nation yesterday, a private wake took place Saturday for members of the Red Sox organization and close friends and family.
Boston Bruins legend and former player Milt Schmidt, 94, showed up Saturday to pay respect to his friend.
Players and Red Sox officials are expected at to attend the private funeral today.
Inside the funeral home
No cameras were allowed inside the funeral home at the request of the family, but members of the public were invited inside.
Photographs of Pesky as a young player were displayed inside the
funeral home, as well as pictures of an older Pesky with fellow Red Sox
legend Ted Williams.
» Pesky’s casket was open and inside hung a No. 6, similar to the display of retired numbers inside Fenway Park.
» Donation envelopes were made available. Donations can be made to The Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place, West Brookline, MA 02445.