Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Great Johnny Pesky Would Have Been 99 Today

Editor-In-Chief (first kid, left); Pesky (2nd on right)
In the pantheon of beloved Red Sox players, Johnny Pesky was at or near the top. Born John Michael Paveskovich on this date in 1919, the Portland, Oregon native played eight seasons in Carmine Hose. Of course, like most players of that era, Pesky missed three of his potentially most productive years to military service (ages 24,25,26). And yet, he had a terrific career in Boston—hitting .313, with a .401 OBP and a .794 OPS. In his rookie year, he finished third in the AL MVP voting, and finished fourth in that race in the 1946 pennant-winning year. He was a fixture around Fenway for decades. One of my most vivid memories was walking my young son around an empty Fenway hours before game-time. As we wandered down near the third base dugout, one person was sitting on a chair—bat in hand. It was Pesky. I made sure my son met him and knew his importance to the franchise. Who can forget the overwhelming emotion displayed by Johnny in the clubhouse after the Red Sox broke the 86-year curse? His emotion was genuine, as was the man. We miss you, Johnny! Happy birthday!