The Grandfather of the Red Sox passed away this week. He was 92 years old, lived a full and incredible life yet it was still shocking and sad when news broke of his passing.
The only good news is that it gave us all a chance to celebrate his life. This is a welcome shift from dealing with the Red Sox who have turned into an absolute joke of a franchise.
Larry Lucchino for all intensive purposes runs the Red Sox and he has for years. He is on the top of my list when it comes to blame for what the Red Sox have become. With that being said, I do need to give him credit where credit is due. When it came to Johnny Pesky, Larry always got it right. I respect him for that along with his hatred for the Yankees. His politics, demeanor and the way he does just about everything else makes my stomach turn.
Dan Duquette was the GM when Pesky was kicked out of uniform and out of the Red Sox dugout in 1997. Duquette, in an interview this week placed the blame on the Red Sox manager at the time saying he did not want Pesky in the dugout and Dan fell on the sword and took the blame. Jimy Williams, who I have always liked, was starting his first year as manager of the Red Sox that year. It makes sense in that respect but it is much easier to hate Duquette than it is to hate Jimy. However, I have wrong about Duquette a lot in my lifetime so I will assume he is telling the truth. Shame on you Jimy Williams.
I also hate to give the Yankees any credit but they made a classy gesture the other night by observing a moment of silence before the game with the Rangers. Derek Jeter also spoke about Johnny:
“He was always so nice to me throughout the years. 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.’ I’ve always enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to him," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said.
“I always like the fact that we have a lot of ex-players that come around all the time. I always liked going up [to Boston] and having an opportunity to see him. They loved him there; fans, players, media, everyone loved him. I send my best wishes to his family.”
Johnny Pesky was a lot better player than he is ever given credit for, part of that reason is Johnny's own humbleness. He always deferred to Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Dom Dimaggio. His love for those guys comes across in every interview he has ever given. He always said he was lucky to play with such great players and he was not in their league.
Pesky hit .331 in his rookie season. That would have been good enough for a batting title except there was this guy named Ted Williams. Pesky would then miss the next three season because of World War II. He would pick up where he left off upon return hitting .335 and .324 in 1946 and 1947. He would compile 620 hits over his first three season. He would end his career with a .307 career batting average and a .394 career OBP. Not bad, not bad at all. Remember that when you think of Pesky as just a nice old man who liked to hit ground balls in spring training. The man could play and he could hit.
The one negative in his career was the claim that he held the ball in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series. Pesky always said that in his heart he felt like he did not hold the ball. Footage of the play, while grainy, seems to exonerate Pesky. Nonetheless, Pesky for years accepted the blame even though his teammates and opponents defended him. Ted Williams was his biggest supporter pointing out that he only hit .200 in the World Series. Things came full circle in 2004 when Johnny Pesky was back in St. Louis and the Red Sox did the unthinkable. Tears streamed down Johnny's face as every player on that Red Sox team embraced him. They were truly proud to win it all for him. Pesky would later say that the 2004 team treated him like a king. Anyone else miss that 2004 team?
Two of my favorite players are Jim Rice and Nomar Garciaparra, both had special relationships with Johnny Pesky. Maybe this is why I always had great affection for Johnny. Nomar used to say that you were not a true Red Sox player until you took grounders from Johnny Pesky.
Heaven has their needle nosed shortstop. Rest in Peace Mr. Paveskovich.