Monday, August 13, 2012

RIP: Johnny Pesky

Johnny Pesky was neither a Dodger, nor a man with much history against the Brooklyn borough.  Nevertheless, I felt the need to honor him.  After all, there aren't too many guys who can claim to have a foul pole named after them.

Johnny Pesky, outstanding shortstop for the Red Sox, passed away today at the age of 92.  Like many players from his era, his most productive Baseball years were spent in the military during WWII.  Nevertheless, he still went on to bat a career .307 over 10 productive Baseball seasons.

He hit .331 in 1942, his rookie season, finishing second to Ted Williams in the batting title race and was third in most valuable player voting. An All-Star in 1946, he was a fine fielding shortstop, his primary position.
Be sure to check out for their excellent biography on his career.

Now on to some Fenway folklore.  The right field foul pole is named in his honor.  Per Wikipedia:
According to Pesky, former teammate and Sox broadcaster Mel Parnell named the pole after Pesky won a game for Parnell in 1948 with a home run down the short right field line, just around the pole. However, Pesky hit just one home run in a game pitched by Parnell, a two-run shot in the first inning of a game against Detroit played on June 11, 1950. The game was eventually won by the visiting Tigers in the 14th inning on a three-run shot by Tigers right fielder Vic Wertz and Parnell earned a no-decision that day
This is obviously the case of the story being better than the real thing.  Still, it's stories like this that makes Baseball so great.  In 2006 the Red Sox officially recognized the right field foul pole as Pesky's Pole. 

As you might be able to notice in the pic below, fans have been known to adorn the pole with a little bit of graffiti.
(pic link: Wikimedia Commons)

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  1. I was blessed to have attended the 3-game interleague series between the Dodgers and Red Sox at Fenway Park in 2010. As a life-long Dodger (and baseball) fan, I was in awe of the place - it was like a shrine. My daughter and I (and two close friends) took the Fenway Park tour, where they talked in great detail about Johnny Pesky and the pole. It was a great tour, one that I highly recommend to every true baseball fan if ever in Boston.

    Don't be too concerned about the graffiti. In most cases it is people who wrote their names in Sharpie, just as they do on the Green Monster near the left field foul pole. It is kind of a tradition for first-timers to Fenway (we did it) and they paint over it every couple of weeks. (Did you know that Green Monster is an actual color?)

    Thanks for the great piece on Johnny Pesky. He was the Red Sox version of our Mickey Hatcher.

    1. Thanks for commenting. Fenway is still on my bucket list, and I will definitely take that tour when I do go.

    2. Any time. Feel free to drop in on our site, as well: We've got a great group of loyal followers who would love to hear from you.


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