Today we here at The Quarterback Blog would like to celebrate the “unofficial” birthday of “Mr. Red Sox,” Johnny Pesky (this is his official birthdate from Major League Baseball, which Pesky may have altered in 1939 in order to meet tryout requirements).
Pesky, who played for the Red Sox in 1942 and from 1946-1952 (missing 1943-1945 to serve in the Navy during World War II), was born in 1919 in Portland, Oregon. He made his Major League debut on April 14th, 1942 and during his rookie season he led the league in hits with 205, then a rookie record. Over his career Pesky hit .307 in 4,745 at-bats and led the American League in hits three times in his career. While Pesky did not have much power, hitting only 17 homeruns in his entire career, he does have the great honor of having the right field foul pole at Fenway Park named after him. There is a great deal of speculation as to how Pesky’s Pole came to be called that, but most people agree that it had to do with the fact that the short fence in right helped hitters with little to no power such as Pesky get the ball over the fences for a round tripper.
Pesky’s Pole was official renamed in a ceremony on his 87th birthday in 2006. My fondest memories of Johnny Pesky come from hearing stories about him playing with Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams, and Dom DiMaggio from my grandfather and, in 2004, finally seeing him get to celebrate a World Series title that had eluded not just him but the franchise for so long. To see the players from that 2004 team rally around Pesky as an extension of those former teams that had never achieved the ultimate goal was something special that I certainly never will forget. The Red Sox officially retired Pesky’s number “6” to honor his 89th birthday in 2008 and he is the only player of the six that have numbers retired by the Red Sox to not be in the Hall of Fame and after all his years of service to the organization I would say it is well deserved. Pesky passed away on August 13, 2012. He was 93 years old.