Boston Red Sox fan favorite Johnny Pesky dies at 92
Johnny Pesky, the star Red Sox shortstop of the 1940s and early '50s who spent seven decades at Fenway Park as a player, manager, coach...
Johnny Pesky, the star Red Sox shortstop of the 1940s and early '50s who spent seven decades at Fenway Park as a player, manager, coach, broadcaster and instructor, becoming one of Boston's most beloved figures, died on Monday in Danvers, Mass. He was 92.
Pesky teamed with second baseman Bobby Doerr, a future Hall of Famer, in one of baseball's leading double-play combinations of their time, and he hit better than .300 in six of his seven full seasons with the Red Sox. In his 80s he was still wearing a Red Sox uniform, hitting fungoes during batting practice and giving tips to the infielders.
For many a Bostonian, Pesky was as familiar as the Common, Faneuil Hall and the Old North Church, and his name endures as a Fenway Park landmark. The short right-field foul line ends at Pesky's Pole, given its name by Red Sox pitcher Mel Parnell, Pesky's teammate, as a wry allusion to the rare occasions when his left-handed swing, which produced all of 17 career home runs, managed to pull the ball into the stands in the vicinity of the pole.
But for all the accolades, Pesky was branded, perhaps unfairly, as one of baseball's "goats" for pausing briefly before relaying a throw to the plate in Game 7 in the 1946 World Series as the St. Louis Cardinals' Enos Slaughter completed his so-called Mad Dash from first base to slide home with the Series-winning run.
Notwithstanding that star-crossed moment in Red Sox history, Pesky was showered with affection by latter-day players and fans through the years.
"They treat me like a king," he said when he visited with the Sox during the 2004 World Series against the Cardinals. "They all give me hugs, like you only used to get from your family."
Those Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in four games, winning the World Series for the first time since 1918, the year before Pesky was born. In April 2005, Pesky helped hoist the World Series championship banner at Fenway Park. In April 2012, when the Red Sox commemorated the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, Pesky and Doerr were together again, in wheelchairs side by side at second base, an emotional centerpiece of the celebration.
Pesky was born John Michael Paveskovich on Sept. 27, 1919, in Portland, Ore. His name was shortened to fit into box scores, and he eventually changed it legally.
• The New York Yankees signed Derek Lowe, a former Mariner, to a major-league contract and said they planned to use the right-hander in the bullpen. He pitched four innings Monday in relief.
Lowe, a 39-year-old sinkerballer, has spent time as a reliever, but mostly has pitched in the rotation for various teams, most recently the Indians. Cleveland designated him for assignment on Aug. 2 and released him on Friday.
• Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko has cleared a battery of post-concussion tests and will resume physical activity Tuesday.
• The Dodgers placed third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. on the 15-day disabled list with a left hip injury.