He was an integral part of the Boston lineup, hitting over .300 as a member of the Red Sox and serving the team faithfully after retirement. Johnny Pesky passed away yesterday at the age of 92.
His baseball career spanned over 60 years, beginning in Portland where he broke in . And even though he bounced around the majors at the end of his career, he’ll forever be remembered as a leader of Red Sox Nation: as player (where he earned the eternal respect of Ted Williams), manager, broadcaster, and general goodwill ambassador. We last saw him in uniform three years ago in spring training — stationed in the City of Palms Park dugout, honored during a pregame ceremony — but millions of Red Sox fans knew him as the ultimate symbol of the Sox.
John Michael Paveskovich was born Sept. 27, 1919, in Portland, Oregon. He grew up in a baseball work, serving as a clubhouse boy for the Portland Beavers on Vaughn Street before being signed by the Red Sox. He played for the team in 1942 before losing three years to military service in the U.S. Navy, returning in 1946 and batting .335. A stint as a manager ended up with more losses than wins, but Pesky remained associated with the team (after a stint as a Pirates coach and manager) as broadcaster, coach, assistant to the GM and instructor.
As long as Fenway Park stands, he’ll be remembered: besides having his number retired, the right-field pole is known as Pesky’s Pole, dubbed so by broadcaster Mel Parnell after he claimed Pesky wrapped a walk-off home run around it. The veracity of the claim has been challenged, but it doesn’t matter: by now the naming remains more symbolic than anything else, and it’s a good legacy for a man so closely associated with the franchise.
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