Remembering a legend
The Red Sox lost a true legend today when Johnny Pesky died. He was truly a one-of-a-kind ambassador for all things Red Sox.
I’m not sure people outside of New England fully grasped what he meant to Boston and the Red Sox until he brought down the house with that ovation on Ring Day in April of 2005.
Here are a sampling of remembrances provided by the Red Sox’ Public Relations department.
“The number one thing everyone has to understand is that there wasn’t a greater gentleman of the game. Johnny was loved by everyone. He would light up your day when he walked in the room. I have to give him credit for hitting me all those ground balls every day at 3:17. I have to attribute those two gold gloves that I won to the hard work that he and I put in.”
“You can sum Johnny up as a great player, a great teammate, but best of all, a great friend. I remember coming back from the service and I was anxious to get to know him, and he was just a friendly, lovable guy from the start. He was a great encourager in my 1946 season and through my career in Boston, helping me and encouraging in any way he could. He could swing that bat and spray that ball over the field. He was one of the all-time greatest guys as a player and as a person.”
“Johnny bleeds Red Sox red. He couldn’t do enough to help you out. I know he worked with Jimmy (Rice) a lot; he must have hit Jimmy eight million balls off that wall to help him learn how to play it. John was our hitting coach and he was almost like a dad to me. When I’d line out he’d say “Hey, you see that guy standing there? Don’t hit it there. You’re a college guy.” Being with Johnny was like being with my dad all day. I always joked that Johnny hit 200 singles in a year, and I hit 200 in my career.”
“All the great things that I’ve heard people say about him in the last few hours on the news are all true. I played for him for two years in 1963 and 1964. Ballplayers always loved him. He was always there to hit fungos and wanted to make players better. John was a survivor. He just wouldn’t take that Red Sox uniform off. I admire him for that. It was great to see him at the 100th year anniversary with Bobby (Doerr). That was a plus for me. It was great that he was given special recognition that day. He was always there for people. It meant a lot to the fans and it meant a lot to all of us.”
“From the bottom of my heart I am extremely sad. I feel like part of the Red Sox tradition just died because when I think of Johnny I think of him hitting fungos at Spring Training. We will all miss him so much. I was embraced by Johnny and he was always there at every event. He was such a representative of everything that happened in Boston. It’s hard to think of the success, defeat, and all we went through without Johnny. You couldn’t do anything without Johnny Pesky.”
“Johnny is the greatest man I have ever met in this wonderful game we are so blessed to play. He will truly be missed in the Red Sox family.”
“I had my best year ever when Johnny was managing in 1963. I went 20-10 that season. We used to talk a lot – sit on the bench and talk baseball for hours. He was like a father to me. He was a wonderful guy and a heck of a player. I really am surprised that he’s not in the Hall of Fame. He was a lifetime .300 hitter. He loved the Red Sox and he loved going to the ballpark each day to see his former teammates, the guys that played for him and the new players on the team.”
“He was fortunate enough to live his life the way he wanted to– and that was to be a part of the Red Sox organization. He did everything you could possibly do for the team…he is what the Red Sox are all about. He’s one of the very few people who truly loved what they did and he loved being a member of the Red Sox family. I will never forget the tears in his eyes when they retired number 6.”
“It’s a great loss, not only for the Sox but all of New England. Johnny’s been around for so long, you think about all the greats that have played with the Red Sox over the years, and he was still there. He was a legend with Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio, and when you think of the Red Sox, you always think of Johnny Pesky. He was a great ambassador for the Red Sox.”
“He was like my father when I came here in 1971. He was a great, great friend, always good to my family when we’d go to Spring Training. We were like a family, together for so many years. He really was a great man, a baseball man all his life, and he was good to everybody. You learned a lot from him, and being around him for so many years was a great experience. You’re not going to find many people like him. Everyone who knew him will miss him.”
“I’m almost speechless. This is a very sad day for me and for anyone who has ever spent any time with Mr. Pesky. He was the most positive influence I ever came across who wore the Red Sox uniform. He was always there through the good and bad times with the same smile and passion for his team. “Hello my honeysuckle, hello my honey bee, my ever lovin’ Jason just got three,” Johnny used to say, wishing me three hits that night. The game, the team, the organization, and Red Sox Nation will truly miss Mr. Pesky. Love you, Pesky!”
“Today is a very sad day. Johnny was a mentor to me early in my career and later became more than that – he became a friend and father figure. His legacy will live forever in my heart and in the hearts of all of Red Sox Nation. He will be missed.”