Monday, August 13, 2012

Pesky Joins Departed Teammates in the Field of Dreams - Rest in Peace

News came to us today of Johnny Pesky's death at age 92.

All of Red Sox Nation will miss the man who in many ways became the face of the franchise.  During the recent 100th Anniversary celebration at Fenway, Pesky made an appearance, weakened and confined to a wheel chair.  Each of the former players found themselves drawn to him, stopping by to offer a word of greeting,  to pat him on the shoulder, to hug him, to shake his hand - to seek his papal blessing.  It reminded me of the way in which baseball's All Stars flocked to a feeble Ted Williams during the preliminary ceremonies to the 1999 All Star Game at Fenway Park.

Pesky was one of the protagonists in David Halberstam's acclaimed book, "The Teammates." The book describes and celebrates the lifelong bond that united Red Sox teammates Pesky, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio.  Today, only Doerr remains to carry the torch for the teammates that have joined those playing the boys' game in The Field of Dreams.

For many years, the iconic foul pole in right field at Fenway Park has been known as Pesky's Pole.

I will miss Pesky in a personal way.  For the past nine seasons, I have been privileged to serve as part of a small cadre of volunteers who work at Fenway Park's Autograph Alley.  For the first few seasons, Johnny Pesky was one of the most popular former players who would come to sign autographs and share stories with Red Sox fans of all ages.  I knew of Pesky's Croatian heritage - his parents had emigrated from the Balkans - so I would take delight in greeting him in Croatian: "Vanya, kako ste?"  He would grin from ear to ear.  I had many opportunities to sit and listen to him spin yarns of his playing days, as well as his decades as coach, manager and general elder statesman for Red Sox Nation and Major League Baseball.  In his later years, he would talk about how much he missed his beloved wife, Ruth, who had died in 2005.  I pray that they are enjoying their reunion today in the Lord's presence.

I will greatly miss old "Needle Nose," but rejoice that I was honored to know him.

Here are a few earlier White Rhino Report postings that mention Pesky.

Requiescat in pace, Vanya!

Pońćivao u miru, prijatelju.


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