BOSTON (CBS) — Johnny Pesky, a former Red Sox player who spent parts of the last eight decades with the organization, passed away Monday at the age of 92.
Pesky joined the Red Sox in 1942 at the age of 22, when he led the league with 205 hits. He missed the following three seasons to serve the United States in World War II, eventually returning to the Red Sox in 1946 and again leading the league in hits that year and the following season. He played with the Red Sox until 1952, when he was traded to the Detroit Tigers. He returned to manage the Red Sox in the ’60s and again in 1980.
Photos: “Mr Red Sox” Johnny Pesky
In addition to playing and coaching, Pesky also worked as a radio and television broadcaster of Red Sox games.
His name will forever be linked with Fenway Park, as the right field foul pole was named “Pesky’s Pole” in his honor. His No. 6 is also one of just seven Red Sox numbers to have been retired in the ballpark.
“We have lost a dear and beloved friend,” said Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry. “Johnny was happiest when wearing the Red Sox uniform. He was able to do that for 61 wonderful years. He carried his passion for the Sox, for Fenway Park, and for baseball everywhere he went, and he was beloved in return. We will miss him. We share the sadness that his family and legions of friends are all feeling.”
Known as “Mr. Red Sox,” Pesky’s presence around Fenway Park was common until recent years. He was on hand to celebrate the ballpark’s 100th anniversary this April, when yelled “Play ball!” along with Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice and Carlton Fisk prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Yankees.
WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche Spoke With Pesky In 2006
Pesky’s date of death (Aug. 13) comes exactly 17 years after the death of Yankees legend Mickey Mantle and five years after Yankees Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto.
Many current and former Red Sox players took to Twitter to remember Pesky.
Former pitcher Curt Schilling tweeted, “One of my career memories was hugging and kissing Johnny pesky after we won it all in 04, God Rest and God Bless his gentle soul, I miss you.”
David Ortiz tweeted, “A very dark day today for red sox nation a good friend of mine past away Jhonny pesky it was a honnor metting you… R.l.P…34”
Sox Pitcher Jon Lester tweeted, “Just heard we lost one of the good ones today. A great player and an even better man, rest in peace Johnny, thank you for the memories.”
Boston Mayor Tom Menino issued the following statement:
“All of Red Sox Nation mourns the loss of ‘Mr. Red Sox,’ Johnny Pesky. He loved the game and he loved the fans – and we loved him. His dedication to the sport and his passion to improve the game through the mentorship of young players will be sorely missed. Our hearts go out to the Red Sox organization and all of Johnny’s family and many friends.”